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'Sporadic' Woods seven back; Love, Furyk nab share of lead


Published: Fri, March 24, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.


Before shooting a 72, Tiger Woods was in California to visit his ailing father.
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. (AP) -- Tiger Woods described his day as "sporadic," which could have meant a golf game that left him seven shots behind Thursday at The Players Championship, or a mind that wandered between his ailing father in California and the perils of the TPC at Sawgrass.
He wasn't fatigued from a 24-hour, coast-to-coast trip to check on Earl Woods.
Nor was he disgusted with five bogeys that offset five birdies on a cool, damp afternoon that left him closer to the cut line than the 7-under 65s posted early by Davis Love III and Jim Furyk.
After an even-par 72, Woods spoke as much about putting as perspective.
"You hit a bad shot and you want to get upset with yourself because you know you can hit better shots," Woods said. "But you know what? In the whole scheme of things, it's just a golf shot."
Cancer victim
His 74-year-old father's body is wracked with cancer, and Woods said he flew home to lift his spirits. Golf was not part of their conversation.
"It's not about me hitting golf shots. It's about him," Woods said. "I want him around as long as possible. It's all about him feeling better, and keep fighting and keep hanging in there."
As Woods pulled into the parking lot, Love and Furyk were on a different pace on the course, headed for the same destination. Love started quickly and was steady to the end, while Furyk -- his dinner companion the night before -- opened with seven pars and closed with a 31 on the back nine.
They had a two-shot lead over Robert Allenby, Miguel Angel Jimenez and Bernhard Langer, who conquered the treacherous island-green 17th with his 20th career birdie. Vijay Singh was among those another shot behind on a cool, but calm day on the Stadium Course.
"The course is there," Love said. "If you hit it in the fairways and putted, you were going to do well."
Warm memories
Any memories for Love would have been warm ones, especially on this golf course where he has won twice, even in a rain suit that he wore from start-to-finish, even though he and the other early starters go only a few sprinkles.
"After 4 under through nine, it wasn't going to come off," he said.
He had on navy rain gear three years ago in cool, blustery conditions when Love closed with a 64, matching the best closing round by a winner at The Players Championship.
If it wasn't the attire, maybe it was something in the casserole at Furyk's house Wednesday night, a small gathering that included Furyk, Love, Brad Faxon (70), Phil Mickelson (70) and Justin Leonard (75).
"It must have been real good, because it worked for Jim and I," Love said.
Crucial double bogey
Mickelson had five birdies, but he dunked his tee shot on the 17th for double bogey, hit a tee shot in the water at No. 15 and scrambled for bogey, and wound up with a 70.
"Maybe Phil didn't eat enough," Love said.
Woods left Florida on Tuesday afternoon and came home late Wednesday, about 12 hours before his tee time. He made no excuses for his 72, and offered no details what caused him to leave, and why he came back. He thought about his father, but he said he had plenty of time to prepare for each shot.
He just didn't hit them all very well.
"Unfortunately, my mechanics weren't very good," Woods said.
He said it helped that he played with Darren Clarke, whose wife, Heather, is dying from cancer that has spread throughout her body. Woods said they spoke about their situations throughout the round.
"It's just one of those things you deal with," Woods said. "Everyone has to deal with that at some point in their life, and unfortunately, right now it's our time."
Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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