Woods Shoots 61, With Bradley Second
Akron, Ohio — Tiger Woods had a shot at making history with a magical 59.
He swore he wasn’t disappointed to come up short.
“Disappointed? Absolutely not,” he said.
Then he cracked, “A 61’s pretty good. I’m not bummed.”
Woods could console himself by tying his career best and building a seven-shot lead Friday through 36 holes at the Bridgestone Invitational.
Pursuing his eighth victory at Firestone Country Club, Woods opened birdie-eagle — stuffing an approach to 3 feet at the first hole and holing a 20-footer for 3 at the par-5 second. He had two more birdies on the front nine, and had four in a row to start the back nine in a light rain.
Needing to go only 2 under over his last five holes, he missed birdie putts inside 10 feet at 15 and 17. He saved par on the last with a 25-footer after an errant drive and a shot that hit into the trees and ended up in a bare spot short and right of the green.
The 61 — matching his career best at the 1999 Byron Nelson, 2005 Buick Open and on the same Firestone course back in 2000 — left him at 13-under 127.
Defending champion Keegan Bradley, of Woodstock, Vt., and Chris Wood, playing the tournament for the first time, were tied for second. They each shot 68.
Will Play Together
Pittsford, n.y. — Tiger Woods was grouped with Keegan Bradley and Davis Love III for the first two rounds of the PGA Championship next week at Oak Hill.
The PGA of America said Friday that Woods, Bradley and Love are scheduled to tee off on No. 10 at 8:35 a.m. Thursday and start play Friday on No. 1 at 1:45 p.m.
Woods, the PGA winner in 1999, 2000, 2006 and 2007, won the last of his 14 major titles at the 2008 U.S. Open.
Bradley won the 2011 PGA at Atlanta Athletic Club in his first major start. Love won the 1997 tournament at Winged Foot for his lone major title.
Johnson Wins 2nd Pole
Long Pond, Pa. — Jimmie Johnson needed multiple attempts to make it through pre-qualifying inspection, then set a track record with a lap of 180.654 mph to win the pole Friday at Pocono Raceway.
Kyle Busch? He could only think the five-time Sprint Cup champion and crew were up to no good.
Johnson went 29th instead of his scheduled 24th spot, and the later start under the clouds as the track got faster may have given him an advantage over the cars that went out under the sun. Johnson had inspection issues last month at New Hampshire and used another late start to qualify third until his time was scrapped after the No. 48 failed inspection.
Are Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus just working around the rules? Or can they simply not get the car in tune in time for inspection? “A lot of these other teams figure out how to play by the rules,” Busch said. “It seems like there’s one that’s sometimes late. Quite often, more than the rest.”
Busch will start second and Carl Edwards third. Ryan Newman, last week’s race winner at the Brickyard, starts fourth.
Johnson is tied with Matt Kenseth with a series-high four wins this season and he leads the points standings as he chases his sixth championship. Johnson is in position to go for the season sweep at Pocono, where he won from the pole in June. Johnson took that pole after the field was set on points because rain washed out qualifying.
Johnson took the top spot this time after a second pass through inspection. NASCAR determined the tow on his Chevrolet was off by one-thousandth of an inch — just enough to make Busch suspicious.
Heat Add Oft-Injured Center
Miami — Greg Oden is coming back to the NBA with the Miami Heat. Mike Conley Sr., one of Oden’s agents, said Oden has informed the Heat that he will accept their contract offer.
Oden’s decision ends months of suspense that saw several NBA teams line up for a chance to sign the former No. 1 pick whose career has been derailed by a series of knee problems.