Despite double bogey, Woods leads Doral by two
MIAMI -- The shots were flying all over the 18th hole at the Blue Monster, behind banyan trees and corporate chalets, in the water on the left and the opposite fairway on the right.
One guy made a 65-foot putt for birdie. Another one missed a 3-foot putt to take double bogey.
Carving a 6-iron out of the trees to steer clear of all the trouble around him, Woods escaped with a 4-under 68 to build a two-shot lead over Daniel Chopra and Rich Beem in the Ford Championship at Doral.
"I'm in good shape, I guess," Woods said after an exhausting day in which he got his mistakes out of the way early, recovering from a double bogey at No. 9 with three straight birdies on the back nine to emerge from the pack.
Woods had to wait 25 minutes on the 18th tee while Camilo Villegas studied his options, long enough to order pizza.
"Probably would have got it when we were on the fairway," Woods said.
He would have had to pay for it, because Mickelson was already out $200 after giving a man money for breaking his watch with an errant 3-wood into the gallery at No. 10.
Indeed, there was no shortage of entertainment for a record crowd of 37,000.
• Villegas was one shot out of the lead, saw Woods atop the leaderboard, and hit his tee shot squarely behind a banyan tree. He played sideways to the first fairway, had the gallery moved out of harm's way, took a drop away from the chalets, then deposited a majestic 8-iron over everything to 30 feet.
And then he three-putted for double bogey and a 71 to fall three shots behind.
"Unfortunately, I just missed a short one there to go home," he said.
• Chopra was lost in the trees and hoping to make par when he grabbed a 5-iron and looked for a way out. He went under one tree, over another, left of a third three and right of a fourth tree, barely on the green. Then he made birdie with a 65-foot putt for 68.
"The ideal finish," he said.
• Mickelson was tied for the lead after nine holes when Woods made his double bogey, and thought everything was falling his way when he overcooked his 3-wood into the gallery and it took a fortuitous hop toward the green. Then he found the man he hit, and noticed his watch was broken. Lefty pulled two $100 bills from his bag to pay for it.
"It wasn't a Rolex," Mickelson said.
It wasn't his day, either. He hit a pedestrian pitch and two-putted for par, then slowly lost ground. He finished by hitting a 4-iron off barren land and onto the green, with enough spin to send it down the slope, off the green and into the water.
"An interesting day," Mickelson said. "Obviously, it wasn't what I hoped. But the great thing about today was it was not the last day. There's one more day tomorrow."
As for that pairing with Woods?
"Because it was not the final round, I wasn't really concerned," Mickelson said after his 73. "I should be now. I'm four back, and I've got to make a run tomorrow."
When the zaniness subsided as the orange glow of the sun dipped behind the clouds, Woods was atop the leaderboard at 17-under 199 and poised to win for the second straight year at the Blue Monster.
Woods is 33-3 on the PGA Tour when he has at least a share of the 54-hole lead.
Instead of Mickelson at his side Sunday, Woods will be paired with Chopra, who birdied two of his last three holes and was at 15-under 201. Also two shots behind was Beem, the former PGA champion, who was terrified of the Blue Monster's closing hole until he birdied it for a 69.
David Toms wasn't so fortunate. He was in rough so deep that he laid up short of the water, then failed to convert par from 92 yards and had to settle for a 70, leaving him at 14-under 202 along with Villegas.
It will take some work to catch Woods, who is dominant with the lead.
"If you're leading, you're playing pretty good," Woods said about his record going into the final round.
Woods wasted one chance earlier to take charge of the tournament.
He birdied the first two holes and twice made big par saves on the first five holes. After his approach ballooned into the wind and trickled just short of the rocks guarding the pond on No. 3, he pitched to 5 feet and made the putt. And after a gust knocked his ball into the bunker at No. 5, he blasted out to 10 feet and made another big putt.
It appeared as though he might pull away with a 340-yard drive on the par-5 eighth, followed by a 5-iron into 30 feet for a two-putt birdie that put him two shots ahead of Mickelson. But he dumped his 8-iron into the water on the par-3 ninth and made double bogey, bringing everyone back into the mix.
That changed with a 6-iron into 3 feet on the 13th -- the only birdie of the round on that par 3 -- a wedge from 153 yards into 10 feet on the 14th, and an 8-iron from 172 yards into 8 feet for his third straight birdie.
Equally important was his par on the final hole, one extra shot between Woods and those trying to catch him.
NBC Sports is televising the next five PGA Tour events, and it didn't take long for analyst Johnny Miller to get into the swing of things. Noting that no one had made birdie on the par-3 13th, Miller pointed out that Sergio Garcia missed a 7-foot birdie putt. "Nothing new there," he said. ... Davis Love III was told his tee time was 11:14 a.m., but it sounded to him like 11:40 a.m. He was in the fitness trailer when he saw the tee times, rushed out the door and went to the first tee without warming up. "I hit driver and 1-iron to 20 feet and made eagle," Love said, laughing. He shot 67 and was at 12-under 204.
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press
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