Steady play gives Furyk lead in Target Challenge

Friday, December 6, 2002

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- Jim Furyk had a boring round compared to Tiger Woods and Davis Love III, which was fine by him Thursday in the Target World Challenge.

While both Woods and Love went eight consecutive holes without a par, Furyk picked his spots at Sherwood Country Club and avoided costly mistakes on his way to an 8-under 64 to take a one-stroke lead.

Nick Price and Padraig Harrington were at 65 after playing without a bogey, which was the best way to move up the leaderboard -- and stay there -- on a perfect day for scoring.

"You can make a bunch of birdies, but it's also a course where you can make a bunch of mistakes," Furyk said. "If you can eliminate those bad holes, which is difficult, you can shoot a really low round."

That's what stopped Woods (68) and Love (66).

Woods, the tournament host and defending champion of the $3.8 million exhibition, reached the 15th hole and looked over at a large scoreboard.

"You have to shoot 10 under just to keep up," he said under his breath.

Instead, he was running in place, answering every birdie with a bogey, and vice versa.

After a par on the opening hole, Woods didn't make another par until he missed a 5-foot birdie putt on the 10th.

He really got it going in the middle of his front nine with four straight birdies that pulled him within two strokes of the lead, then hit into the hazard off the ninth tee and had to get up-and-down for a bogey.

"They were absolutely perfect conditions. Just look at the board," Woods said, noting that only four players in the 16-man field failed to shoot par or better. "You just knew you had to take it low today."

The good news?

"I didn't shoot myself out of the tournament," he said.

Neither did Love, who had the most entertaining round of them all with nine birdies and an eagle. His problem was Love had only four pars.

Good day or bad day?

"I like making that many birdies," Love said. "If you miss it any place on this golf course, you can make a big number."

His biggest came at the par-3 15th, when his ball came up just short in a mixture of grass and rocks. Love had a decent lie, but was worried about hitting the rocks with his club and wound up advancing the ball only a few inches. He wound up with a double bogey.

"I should have gotten it out," he said. "I just chickened out of the shot."

It's hard to blame a guy for not wanting to get injured, not in a tournament that pays $1 million to the winner and $130,000 for last place. And not with the start of the 2003 PGA Tour season -- the money that counts -- only a month away.

The other secret to low scoring was lack of sleep.

Furyk, Price and Harrington -- the top three guys on the leaderboard -- were all in South Africa last week for the Nedbank Challenge.

"I knocked some of the rust off," Furyk said.

He played with Chris DiMarco, who knocked the ball all over Sherwood -- eight birdies to go with a bogey and a double bogey that put him at 67 with David Toms and Retief Goosen.

Phil Mickelson played the par 5s even par -- two bogeys and an eagle when he hit a 6-iron for his second shot on the 522-yard 11th hole. He was at 68, and gets to play with Woods on Friday.

After going 18 months without playing together, this will be the fifth time in their last eight rounds that Woods and Mickelson -- Nos. 1 and 2 in the world -- get to spend quality time inside the ropes.

That means more cameras, which isn't good news for Woods.

On Sunday in the Skins Game, a man without media credentials clicked a camera during his swing out of a bunker on the final hole with $200,000 on the line. Caddie Steve Williams removed the camera and dropped it into a lake.

On Thursday, a photographer clicked as Woods stood over a 6-foot eagle putt. He paused but didn't yell, and missed the putt.

"It was early enough that I was OK," he said. "I just misread it."

Williams didn't heave the camera into the Sherwood forest, he simply asked the photographer in a strong voice not to do it again.

Woods says he has license to get angry over such incidents, even in the hit-and-giggle time of the year. It's just that it was Thursday, not a final round.

"The 18th hole is a different story," he said.

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