Cink takes the lead as Tiger stumbles a bit at Bridgeport

Published 5:18 pm Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Tiger Woods kept his ball on the golf course Saturday, but he had trouble getting it in the hole. With his longest streak of bogeys in nearly 10 years, that allowed Stewart Cink to find himself in a familiar spot at the Bridgestone Invitational.

Cink made two great par saves early in his round that kept his momentum on his way to a 6-under 64 to shoot past Woods, who bogeyed four straight holes, and Davis Love III and into a one-shot lead at this World Golf Championship.

Cink won in 2004 at Firestone South, a week after he was named a captain’s pick for the Ryder Cup team. He was picked again for the U.S. team by Tom Lehman on Monday, and can only hope he gets the same result.

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But it wasn’t quite the same.

Cink, who was at 9-under 201, had a five-shot lead going into the final round two years ago. The lead is only one shot this time over Woods, Love and Paul Casey of England, who matched Cink with a 64.

“I’ve got a lot more of a dog fight on my hands,” Cink said. “I don’t control my own destiny nearly as much as I did at that time. So it feels quite differently. The one thing that is a common thread is I’ve played well and putted well this week.”

Love took advantage of Woods’ collapse by running off three straight birdies around the turn to build a three-shot lead, but he gave them all back over the final seven holes, including a 3-foot par putt his missed on the 16th. He wound up with a 70.

Woods settled down on the back nine and picked up two birdies for a 1-over 71, ending his streak of 11 consecutive rounds in the 60s and 17 consecutive subpar rounds. All that mattered was being only one shot behind, especially after trailing Love by five shots with eight holes to play in the third round. “I was lucky to keep myself in the ballgame,” said Woods, trying to win his fourth consecutive tournament. “Davis had a chance to run away. But the lead is 9 (under), and I’m only one shot back.”