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Archive for Sunday, January 28, 2007

Woods surges into Buick contention

Tiger fires 69, trails leaders Buckle, Snedeker by two shots

January 28, 2007

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— Another new name reached the top of the leaderboard Saturday at the Buick Invitational. The next step is trying to hold off a familiar figure at Torrey Pines.

Australian rookie Andrew Buckle closed out his 4-under 68 with a 15-foot birdie putt that gave him a share of the lead with fellow rookie Brandt Snedeker. Two shots behind and casting an enormous presence on the leaderboard was Tiger Woods, who played bogey-free on the South Course for a 69 that left him in prime position to capture his seventh straight PGA Tour victory.

Buckle and Snedeker, who shot 74, have made a combined 20 starts on the PGA Tour. They will play in the final group with Kevin Sutherland, whose only PGA Tour victory came 20 miles up the road at La Costa five years ago.

When he finished his round, Buckle was told he would be playing in the last group with Woods. That changed when Sutherland hit a hybrid onto the par-5 18th and two-putted for birdie and a 70 to finish one shot out of the lead.

"I'm not playing with Tiger?" Buckle said later. "Beautiful. I would have been pretty nervous."

Woods, the two-time defending champion at the Buick Invitational, finished with 11 straight pars, including consecutive bunker saves that kept his name on the leaderboard.

Today figures to be a shootout at Torrey Pines, which is often the case.

Buckle and Snedeker were at 11-under 205, and a dozen players were within three shots of the lead.

Charles Howell III (73), Troy Matteson (69) and Bill Haas (72) joined Woods at 207. Seven players were another shot behind, including former major champions Mark Calcavecchia and Rich Beem.

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