Snedeker Zooms to Lead; Tiger 3 Back
Lake Forest, Ill. — Brandt Snedeker was making so many birdies that even an 18-foot putt looked like a mere tap-in.
When he finished his amazing run Thursday in the BMW Championship, he had seven straight birdies on his card and an 8-under 63 at blustery Conway Farms.
In this case, everything was going in — a 15-foot putt from the fringe on the 13th, another 15-footer on the next hole when he used the blade of his sand wedge to bump the ball out of the short rough, and a 40-footer from the fringe on the 17th stood out to him.
That gave him a one-shot lead over Zach Johnson in the third FedEx Cup playoff event. Tiger Woods sounded disgusted with his round of 66, mainly because he had a pair of three-putt bogeys and missed a 4-foot birdie putt over his last five holes.
Steve Stricker, Charl Schwartzel and Kevin Streelman also were at 66.
The opening round was mainly about the debut of Conway Farms, a Tom Fazio design north of Chicago which has a blend of strong holes and plenty of birdie opportunities on par 4s where players hit wedge for their second shot. Low scoring was predicted, and Snedeker’s round was proof of that.
But as the wind picked up and shifted directions, the course was far from a pushover.
Rickie Fowler opened with a pair of double bogeys, followed by a pair of bogeys. He rallied for a 77. Rory McIlroy made a double bogey — his ninth of the FedEx Cup playoffs — on his second hole, and then three-putted from 4 feet for a triple bogey and staggered to a 78. Lee Westwood, fighting severe pain in his back and ribs, had an 80.
Keegan Bradley, of Woodstock, Vt., shot a 74.
Oracle Loses Twice
San Francisco — Nothing but stern.
That’s mostly what defending America’s Cup champion Oracle Team USA saw of Emirates Team New Zealand’s fast boat on Thursday, when the plucky Kiwis won two more races to move closer to taking the America’s Cup Down Under for the second time in 18 years.
Of course, since this newfangled America’s Cup is sailed in high-performance, 72-foot catamarans, Oracle and its new tactician, Olympic star Ben Ainslie, had to watch two Kiwi sterns speed past and then pull away between Alcatraz Island and the Golden Gate Bridge.
There’s only one upwind leg on the five-leg course on San Francisco Bay, and that’s where the Kiwis are burying the Americans as the boats zigzag toward the Golden Gate Bridge.
With their grinders working so hard they were gasping for air, and skipper Dean Barker making an aggressive move, the Kiwis turned a close Race 6 into a 47-second victory. They then put a whitewashing on Larry Ellison’s syndicate in the seventh race, leading the whole way for a victory of 1 minute, 6 seconds.
The Kiwis relocated from their small island country of 4.5 million people to San Francisco earlier this year with the singular intention of ripping the oldest trophy in international sports away from the American powerhouse. They lead 6 to minus-1 and need three more victories to claim the Auld Mug for the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron.
The way the Kiwis are sailing, the clincher could come Sunday afternoon on San Francisco Bay. Friday is a lay day, with Races 8 and 9 on Saturday. Two more races are scheduled for Sunday, the second one if necessary.
Ex-Notre Dame QB, Dies
South Bend, Ind. — Frank Tripucka, who led Notre Dame to a 9-0-1 record and a No. 2 ranking in 1948, has died. He was 85.
His son, Kelly Tripucka, a former Notre Dame basketball standout, said his father died of congestive heart failure at his home in Woodland Park, N.J.
Before becoming the starter, Tripucka was a backup to Heisman Trophy winner John Lujack, who led the Irish to back-to-back national championships. As a senior, he completed 53 of 91 throws for 660 yards and 11 touchdowns as the Irish won all their games except a 14-14 tie with USC.
Tripucka was the ninth pick overall by Philadelphia in 1949. He played for the Eagles, the Detroit Lions, the Chicago Cardinals, the Dallas Texans and the Denver Broncos.
Mexico Names Coach
Mexico City — Victor Manuel Vucetich was hired Thursday as coach of the Mexican national team as it tries to recover from a pair of losses in World Cup qualifying and avoid missing the tournament for the first time in a quarter-century.
The 58-year-old, fired by Monterrey last month after winning three straight CONCACAF Champions League titles, follows Jose Manuel De la Torre.
De la Torre was fired after last Friday’s 2-1 home loss to Honduras and replaced on an interim basis by Luis Fernando Tena, who led El Tri in Tuesday’s 2-0 loss at the United States.
Vucetich is known as “King Midas” after winning 14 of 15 the finals he has managed in his career.
Mexico is in danger of failing to reach the World Cup for the first time since 1990, when it was banned because it used four overage players in qualifying for the 1989 World Youth Championship for players under 20.
The top three nations from North and Central America and the Caribbean qualify for next year’s 32-nation field in Brazil, and the fourth-place team advances to a home-and-home playoff against Oceania champion New Zealand.