Akron, Ohio — Darren Clarke hit one ball that ricocheted across the fairway and played another hole down the wrong fairway. When his wild ride was over, he wound up with the lead Saturday in the NEC Invitational.
Clarke gave himself a chance to win another World Golf Championship, finishing with a 4-under 66 to take a one-stroke lead over Jonathan Kaye.
"I got a few breaks early on," said Clarke, who was at 9-under 201 on an increasingly firm Firestone course. "I hit some good shots and some bad shots, but thankfully my short game has been very sharp, and that's what made the difference."
Kaye, who won for the first time on the PGA Tour this year at the Buick Classic, birdied his four holes and finished strong for a 65.
Clarke's biggest victory came three years ago in the Match Play Championship, when he hammered Tiger Woods in the 36-hole final.
This isn't match play, but it could shape up that way late this afternoon. And Woods is very much in the picture.
Despite three bogeys in four holes during the middle of his round, Woods regrouped to shoot a 67 and was three strokes behind. He has won the NEC Invitational the last three times it has been played at Firestone.