David Toms feared his 5-iron was headed for the back bunker on the par-3 fourth hole, so when it kissed off the pin and dropped into the cup for an ace, he figured Saturday might be his day at the Memorial in Dublin, Ohio.
He wasn’t the only guy who felt that way.
On a day of low scoring and a wild scramble for the lead, Toms shot an 8-under-par 64 and wound up in a four-way tie for the lead with Fred Couples, Jeff Sluman and Bart Bryant.
Ten others were within four shots of the lead – including Tiger Woods, one of the few players stuck in neutral – setting up what should be a shootout today at Muirfield Village.
“You’ve got to shoot what everyone else is shooting,” Couples said after a 66 that put him in the final group at the Memorial for the second straight year. “I have just as good a chance as eight or 10 guys.”
Bryant recovered from a double bogey at No. 2 when he hit his approach into the creek, making five birdies on the back nine, including a 9-iron that stopped inches behind the cup at the difficult 17th. He had a 66 and joined the other leaders at 12-under 204.
Woods made three bogeys in his round of 71 and was at 8-under 208.
“I had to shoot something in the 60s, and I just didn’t do it,” Woods said. “I’m going to have to shoot what these guys shot early today and hope I can post it, and hope that it’ll be enough.”
Couples is a surprising contender, despite having won the Memorial in 1998 and contending last year. He hasn’t played since the Masters because of a troubled back, but began wearing a brace that fits like a body suit from about 8 inches above his knees extending to his lower back.
Toms has karma on his side. Four years ago at the PGA Championship, he made a hole-in-one in the third round that looked as if it would hit hard and go over the green, only to crash into the pin and disappear. He went on to win his only major by one shot.
“I put myself in position today, and that’s all I did,” Toms said. “I’m not going to be able to make pars and hope it’s good enough. There are too many guys who can do what I did today.”
Mike Reid is still going strong after his head-turning victory a week ago.
Reid, enjoying unusual success on the longer holes, shot a 5-under 66 to take a two-stroke lead heading into the final round of the Allianz Championship in Polk City, Iowa.
Only three days ago, Reid still seemed in a daze over what he had done in the Senior PGA Championship last Sunday, when he came from three strokes down on the final hole to force a playoff, then won it on the first extra hole.
But he sure seems settled down and focused now. His near-perfect second round – one bogey – left him at 7-under 135 for the tournament. When he did hit a bad shot, he’d recover on the next one.
“I knew my game was pretty sound, but I thought that focusing would be a challenge,” Reid said. “Once I got a couple of holes under way on Friday, I started to feel like my mind wasn’t wandering.”
Bob Gilder, who changed his putting grip just before the round, matched Reid’s 66 to pull into contention at 5 under along with Morris Hatalsky (67), Bruce Fleisher (70) and first-round co-leader Tom Jenkins (72).
Gil Morgan and defending champion D.A. Weibring were at 4-under after shooting 67s.
Reid is known as “Radar” because of his accuracy, but he isn’t a long hitter off the tee. However, he was sensational on the four par-5s at the Tournament Club of Iowa, making birdie on three of them and an eagle on the other.
“I took advantage of them today and played the rest of the golf course well enough,” Reid said.
Reid got his eagle on 13 by knocking a 5-wood to 3 feet and then rolling in the putt to go to 6 under.
“I thought if I could shoot a 67, I could move up,” said Reid, who started the day four strokes off the lead. “I’m very happy with that score.”
With steely determination and precise putting, Annika Sorenstam shot a 6-under 65 to surge into a tie with Juli Inkster heading into the final round of the ShopRite LPGA Classic in Galloway Township, N.J.
Setting the stage for the kind of showdown she relishes, Sorenstam birdied five of the last seven holes to erase Inkster’s opening-round lead, putting both at 10 under.
The LPGA Hall of Famers will have more than each other to worry about in the final round: Laura Davies, who shot a tournament-record 62, is one stroke back at 9 under.
“Anything can happen,” Sorenstam said.
If recent history is any indication, it’ll happen in her favor. Sorenstam, 34, has won the last five tournaments in which she led or shared the lead heading into the final round.
The torrential rains and gusty winds of Friday’s opening round were only a memory. A slight drizzle fell in the morning, but it quit by the time Inkster – who carried a two-stroke lead to the course – got to the tee at No. 4.
From there, she reeled off three consecutive birdies, the last coming on a downhill 7-foot putt on the tricky, sloping green of No. 6. She shot 4 under for the day.
But it was Davies, 41, tying her career-low for 18 holes, who had the round of the day.
She shot 30 on the front nine, shooting par on the first two holes and then hitting for an eagle and three birdies on the next four holes. She picked up three more birdies on the back nine.
Wendy Ward of Edwall, Wash., shot a 69 to put her at 2-over 144.
Tracy Hanson of Rathdrum, Idaho, missed the cut after a 73 left her at 148.
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.