Archive for Sunday, August 22, 2004

Cink takes command at NEC

Golfer has 5-stroke lead heading into today’s final round

August 22, 2004

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— Stewart Cink is making Ryder Cup captain Hal Sutton's decision look better than ever.

Five days after becoming a captain's pick for the U.S. team, Cink seized control of the NEC Invitational with six straight one-putt greens and a chip-in from 50 feet for birdie on the 18th hole Saturday for a 2-under 68, giving him a five-shot lead over a trio of Ryder Cup teammates.

As Tiger Woods and David Toms lost ground over the closing holes at Firestone South, Cink marched along with a steady diet of fairways and greens and finished at 11-under 199.

It was the largest 54-hole lead at this World Golf Championship event since Woods led by nine shots in 2000.

Woods struggled off the tee. He grazed a boy's head on the eighth hole, but really lost it on the final holes. He nearly shanked an iron to the right on the 17th and made bogey, then badly pulled his drive on the 18th beyond the trees and needed a great escape to save par for a 70.

"I hit it so great this morning it was scary," said Woods, who made three straight birdies to finish his second round in the rain-delayed tournament. "Then all of a sudden, I come out here and play like an idiot."

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