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Haas leads after second day at Memorial, Woods falls into pack

DUBLIN, Ohio — Bill Haas played the best golf in the toughest conditions Friday in the rain-delayed Memorial.

When the second round was suspended as dark clouds rolled in and forced the third stoppage in play, Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy were close to each other on the leaderboard, even if they were miles away from Haas, who had a 5-under 67.

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THE MEMORIAL

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That didn’t bode well for Woods, the five-time Memorial winner who had a most peculiar round in wind and on fast greens. He three-putted from 5 feet for double bogey on the par-5 15th, chopped up the final hole for a bogey and wound up with a 74.

“Tough conditions out there, and I didn’t exactly play my best, either,” said Woods, who had his worst 36-hole total (145) at the Memorial since he first played it in 1997.

McIlroy was in danger of missing the cut until he fired off five birdies, looking more comfortable with his putts and attacking with his driver. He was 4 under for his round and one shot inside the cut line — and one shot behind Woods. McIlroy was in a greenside bunker in two shots at the par-5 15th when play was stopped.

“The major goal today was to try to make it into the weekend,” McIlroy said. “I’m on the right track to do that.”

The second round was to resume at 7:30 a.m. Saturday.

The Memorial has a long history of bad weather, and it’s a tough spot for it to happen. Slugger White, the tour’s vice president of competition, said more storms were expected early Saturday afternoon and into Sunday morning. Ohio is on the western edge of the eastern time zone, allowing for long hours of daylight. But several players have U.S. Open qualifying Monday.

Morning or afternoon, Muirfield Village was no picnic. The wind was a factor in the morning and it began to increase in strength, while the greens were firm and crispy and required caution even on the shorter putts.

Haas played through it beautifully, taking advantage of one bad tee shot that he thought was headed out-of-bounds on the par-5 11th. He hit a provisional, didn’t need it and wound up making a birdie. He also holed a bunker shot for eagle on No. 5 and was at 9-under 135.

He was three shots clear of Matt Kuchar, who had a 70, among those who finished the round.

Charl Schwartzel, who made 10 birdies in an opening-round 65, struggled on the greens and was 1 over for his day and three shots behind. He had three holes remaining. Bubba Watson was at 6 under through 14 holes, and his biggest battle was with allergies. He wore sunglasses under gathering clouds and kept a wet towel around his neck, anything to keep his allergies under control.

The advantage for those still on the course was the rain delay of 1 1/2 hours. It rained hard for a short time, which slightly softened the greens, and the afternoon starters returned to a course with only a breeze.

The wind died down, made it a lot easier to play the holes,” Watson said.

Kyle Stanley also was at 6 under and had five holes remaining.

McIlroy got the short end on the par-3 12th, slightly downhill and over the water. The wind not only was strong, it was unpredictable. McIlroy hit his tee shot and could only watch, hopeful it landed somewhere on dry land and in a reasonable spot. The horn to stop play sounded moments later.

Haas has been playing the Memorial since 2005, and he has been coming to Muirfield Village even longer when his father, Jay Haas, was a regular. The son even caddied for the father one year, and he received a sponsor’s exemption his first year out of Wake Forest.

“Even though I’ve never really had great success her personally, I love coming back, look forward to it every year,” Haas said. “And part of it might be I’ve always known how much my dad liked it and how well he did here. Hopefully, I can continue on the weekend and get a better taste in my mouth on how to play it, as opposed to just liking it.”

Only six players from the morning round managed to break 70, a testament to a course that is dry and fast, especially on the greens. The wind was strong early and showed no sign of letting up, even after a 20-minute delay in the afternoon as storms threatened.

The resurgent Robert Karlsson had a 71 and was five shots behind.

For a short time, it looked as though Woods’ first objective was to stick around for the weekend. Along with not making birdies, he made a mess of the par-5 15th for the second straight day. From the fairway, he pulled his approach well left of the green and chipped through the green, just into a thick collar of round. He chipped out to about 5 feet, and his par putt caught the lip and spun some 8 feet away. Woods wound up three-putting for double bogey from 5 feet.

It could have been worse. Woods made six par putts from the 4-foot to 7-foot range, and he wound up at 1-over 145. When he played the Memorial his first full year on tour in 1997, Woods opened with 72-75 and tied for 67th in a tournament cut short to 54 holes.

“I thought I had a good chance to at least get to even par for my round,” Woods said. “The last hole I ended up making bogey. All in all, it was a hard-fought day, and that’s all I have.”

Woods has never won a PGA Tour event from 10 shots behind going into the weekend. He won at Torrey Pines in 1999 when he was nine shots behind Ted Tryba. Woods has never made up more than a six-shot deficit on the weekend at Muirfield Village.

His tough day wasn’t nearly as bad as some of those around him.

Matt Every started the back nine with a birdie and finished it with a 44 on his way to an 84. Brendan Steele had an 81, while Innisbrook winner Kevin Streelman had an 80. And it proved far too tough for Guan Tianlang. The 14-year-old from China missed his second straight cut after a round of 79.

“Those greens are lightning fast,” Haas said. “I think that’s the biggest deal.”

Even more significant for Haas was how he played the par 5s. He is 7 under on them for the week.

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Haas leads after second day at Memorial, Woods falls into pack

Lehman in group of four tied after first round of Principal Charity Classic

DES MOINES, Iowa — Champions Tour players are used to seeing low numbers in the Principal Charity Classic. The results from the first round on the tournament’s new course suggest that those days could be behind them.

Tom Lehman, Duffy Waldorf, Dan Forsman and Scott Hoch shot 3-under 69 on Friday to share the lead at the Wakonda Club. The Iowa event had been held at Glen Oaks Country Club in neighboring West Des Moines in 11 of the last 12 years.

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PRINCIPAL CHARITY CLASSIC

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Hale Irwin, who turns 68 on Monday, topped a group of eight at 70. Defending champion Jay Haas opened with a 71, and tour points leader Bernhard Langer had a 72.

Wakonda, which was built 91 years ago, has more sloping fairways, higher rough and arguably trickier greens than Glen Oaks. Even though players were allowed to lift, clean and place their golf balls in the fairways effect because of soggy conditions, low scores were hard to find.

The first-round leading score was the highest ever in Iowa — and every player had at least one bogey.

“It’s kind of a mystery course, isn’t it,” Waldorf said. “You get out here on this course and you go, `Anything under par looks good’.”

The conditions led to a bunched leaderboard, which also featured four players tied for the first spot for the first time in tournament history.

Waldorf played the front nine in even par before a strong stretch put him atop the early leaderboard.

He birdied four of the next five holes — including successive sand wedge approaches that landed within 5 feet — to get to 3 under. Though Waldorf had to scramble for pars on the three holes, he was thrilled with his opening round.

“If you had given me 69 before the round I would have said `Oh yeah,'” Waldorf said.

Forsman’s day was defined by an adventurous birdie on the par-5 13th hole.

He hit his drive in the rough, followed by a 5-iron that whacked a tree. He punched his next shot over the green, leaving him about 70 feet from the hole. But Forsman chipped it over a ridge, down a slope and into the cup.

“It’s a huge bonus,” Forsman said. “And yet, when it goes in, I said to my caddie, “That’s why we hit all those pitch shots this week.’ It was tongue-in-cheek, but I was trying to plug that into the subconscious, so next time I’m in that position I’ll have a similar outcome.”

Lehman had four birdies on the back nine, including one on No. 18, to pull even with Waldorf and Forsman. Hoch also birdied the 311-yard, par-4 18th, which ranked as the course’s second-easiest hole, to reach 3 under.

Haas entered play with a chance to become just the third Champions Tour player to win the same event four times. After a rough start, he put himself in position for a move on Saturday.

Haas bogeyed three of his first six holes, and a 6 on the par-5 15th put him 1 over, but he closed with a birdie.

Langer needed birdies on holes No. 17 and 18 to get to 72 after a nasty double-bogey on the previous hole.

David Frost, third in the Schwab Cup standings, picked up six bogeys en route to a 5-over 77.

Doug Garwood, who had played just three events on the Web.com Tour since 2005, stunned the field by pulling into a tie for the lead after 14 holes. But he bogeyed the 15th and 16th holes and had to settle for a 70.

Des Moines avoided rain Friday, but there’s a chance the course could see some light showers on Saturday.

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Lehman in group of four tied after first round of Principal Charity Classic

Australian Dodt makes European Tour history with two aces

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – Australian Andrew Dodt made history at the Scandinavian Masters on Friday when he became the first player on the European Tour to record two holes-in-one in a single round.

The 27-year-old aced the 11th and seventh as he shot a seven-under-par 65 to finish with a two-under-par total of 142, 11 behind leader Matteo Manassero of Italy.

Manassero, 20, winner of last week’s PGA Championship at Wentworth, also carded a 65 for 131.

“The shot at the 11th, my second hole, kick-started things,” Dodt told reporters. “I made a few more birdies in between, then a couple of bogeys and I was heading the wrong way when I got to the seventh.

“That was an eight-iron, it felt a little bit heavy at the start but it was right on line and went in. I can’t get my head around it – I’m pretty proud to be the first one to do it.

“I didn’t putt very well today so I’m glad I was able to hole with a long club.”

Dodt has one previous European Tour victory to his credit, the 2010 Avantha Masters in India.

(Writing by Tony Jimenez; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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Australian Dodt makes European Tour history with two aces

Blumenherst and Jutanugarn lead after first round of ShopRite Classic

GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP, N.J. — Being near the top of leaderboard is familiar territory for Stacy Lewis the past two years.

Week in, week out, Lewis is there and nothing changed in the opening round of the ShopRite LPGA Classic.

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SHOPRITE CLASSIC

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The players near Lewis aren’t in their comfort zone, however, and it remains to be seen whether three-time NCAA player of the year Amanda Blumenherst, LPGA rookie leader Moriya Jutanugarn and the perplexing Michelle Wie can stay with her in the $1.5 million event near the Atlantic City casino resort.

Blumenherst and Jutanugarn shot 5-under 66 to share the lead, a stroke ahead of Lewis and two in front of Wie.

Beating Lewis is not going to be easy. The world’s No. 2 player has won twice and posted eight top-10 finishes in 11 events.

“I guess you just get more confidence being there, you start trusting yourself more, but it’s really cool to think how far I’ve come,” said Lewis, who has zipped up the ranking over the past two seasons. “I wasn’t even the top ranked American this time last year, and now I’m kind of going back and forth for No. 1 in the world.

It’s just nice to keep that consistency going. I’ve had a bunch of top-10s over the last year, and that’s what I’m trying to do every week.”

Lewis had three tap-in birdies, including two at par 5s. She made two 20-footers. A bad drive led to her bogey.

Wie, who a decade ago made one of her first appearances on the women’s tour as a 13-year-old in this event, has never lived up to expectations, winning twice since joining the tour in 2009. She has missed five of 10 cuts this year and her best finish was a tie for 28th in Hawaii. Her other four starts have resulted in no better than a tie for 41st.

“I think nothing really goes exactly the way you plan,” Wie said after making five birdies and two bogeys to tie her lowest numerical score for the season. “There may be hiccups in the way and little adjustments along the way, and I think I did that.”

The biggest adjustment Wie has made is with her putting stroke. She looks like a backward inverted L when putting and one has to wonder whether her back will stand up to that style. Of course, there has been criticism.

“You can’t please everyone,” Wie said. “I’m not going to go around my way living my life trying to please everyone because in the end it doesn’t really matter. They’re not the ones that are living my life. They’re not the ones that ultimately are in my life. So I just am so grateful for my friends, my family and for the people inside my circle that believe in me.”

For Wie to stay close, she needs to keep her drives in the fairway.

“I mean, it’s not really surprising to see Michelle play well,” Lewis said. “This golf course, I am a little surprised on this course because if you can get some shots going sideways you can make some pretty big numbers. That’s good. She needs those good rounds.”

Blumenherst, who is married to Oakland Athletics first baseman Nate Freiman, has missed cuts in six of eight events. The former Duke star has never finished better than a tie for fifth since joining the tour in 2010 after winning at qualifying school.

“It feels amazing,” said Blumenherst, who had an eagle, four birdies and a bogey. “It’s been a while since I’ve had a very solid round of golf and felt like I just played well throughout the entire day. It was a lot of fun out there because it’s been a challenging start to the season.”

Jutanugarn, whose 17-year-old sister Ariya was the halfway leader at Kingsmill in Virginia this month, has missed the cut in two of her last four events after getting off to a quick start. The 18-year-old Jutanugarn, from Thailand, made two of her six birdies on her first two holes. She had one bogey.

The Bay Course at the Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club was the big winner. Only 18 of the 143 players who finished, including just five in the afternoon round, broke par on the 6,155-yard course that played tougher because of wind and bumpy greens.

Beatriz Recari of Spain and Hee Young Park headed a group at 2 under after posting the best rounds of the players who teed off in the afternoon. Park’s South Korean countrywomen, Cella Choi, played her first eight holes in 5 under, but gave four shots back as the afternoon wore on and finished at 1 under.

Many of the tour’s leading players struggled with the wind coming off Reed’s Bay and the tough greens, which are bumpy because the recent cold weather has helped the poa annua thrive.

World No. 1 Inbee Park was in a group at 74 along with Paula Creamer and Na Yeon Choi. Third-ranked Suzann Pettersen had a 76. Among the other notables, Jiyai Shin had a 71, Lizette Salas and I.K. Kim shot 72, and Cristie Kerr had a 73.

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Blumenherst and Jutanugarn lead after first round of ShopRite Classic

Golf-Australian Dodt makes European Tour history with two aces

STOCKHOLM, May 31 (Reuters) – Australian Andrew Dodt made history at the Scandinavian Masters on Friday when he became the first player on the European Tour to record two holes-in-one in a single round.

The 27-year-old aced the 11th and seventh as he shot a seven-under-par 65 to finish with a two-under-par total of 142, 11 behind leader Matteo Manassero of Italy.

Manassero, 20, winner of last week’s PGA Championship at Wentworth, also carded a 65 for 131.

“The shot at the 11th, my second hole, kick-started things,” Dodt told reporters. “I made a few more birdies in between, then a couple of bogeys and I was heading the wrong way when I got to the seventh.

“That was an eight-iron, it felt a little bit heavy at the start but it was right on line and went in. I can’t get my head around it – I’m pretty proud to be the first one to do it.

“I didn’t putt very well today so I’m glad I was able to hole with a long club.”

Dodt has one previous European Tour victory to his credit, the 2010 Avantha Masters in India. (Writing by Tony Jimenez; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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Golf-Australian Dodt makes European Tour history with two aces

California, Illinois, Georgia Tech and Alabama advance to NCAA semifinals

MILTON, Ga. — Top-seeded California survived a quarterfinal scare from Pac-12 rival Arizona State on Friday to advance to the semifinals in the NCAA Division I men’s golf championship.

Brandon Hagy birdied No. 18 after a nearly perfect approach to give the Bears a 3-2 victory and a spot in the semifinals against Illinois. The fifth-seeded Illini beat defending champion Texas 3-2.

NCAA COVERAGE

For complete coverage of the NCAA golf finals, click here.

Host Georgia Tech will face Alabama, the 2012 runner-up, in the other semifinal at the Capital City Club’s Crabapple Course north of Atlanta. The second-seeded Yellow Jackets needed a birdie from Ollie Schneiderjans on an extra hole to edge UNLV 3-2, while third-seeded Alabama topped New Mexico 4-1.

Hagy hit his 137-yard approach within 3 feet to set up the winning birdie against Jon Rahm, the Arizona State freshman who shot a 61 on Tuesday in the first round of stroke play.

Hagy’s shot came after he had failed to close things out on No. 17 when his par putt lipped out.

“I just concentrated on the target and made a good swing,” the junior said.

Asked if he was nervous, Hagy didn’t hesitate. “Absolutely,” he said.

Cal coach Steve Deismond said he had been antsy throughout the match.

“It was an uneasy feeling,” said Deismond, in his 34th season as Bears coach. “How many times (this year) have we been in a situation like this? Almost zero.”

Schneiderjans also hit a decisive approach, sticking his shot within a couple feet from about 110 yards and holing to putt to beat Kevin Penner, who had made a 50-footer on No. 17 to tie.

“I knew everything was on the line, but I called on my experience and felt really calm,” the sophomore said. “It was a great match. He played very well.”

Cal, which finished stroke play Thursday six shots ahead of second-place Georgia Tech, entered the tournament as the favorite after winning 11 of 13 tournaments this season.

The Bears, the NCAA champs in 2004, lost 3-2 to Alabama in the semifinals in 2012 and anything less than a title will mark this season as a disappointment.

Arizona State coach Tim Mickelson, PGA Tour star Phil Mickelson’s brother, still considers the Bears in an elite class.

“I don’t see how it gets any better,” he said. “I believe it’s the best (college) team we’ve ever put on a golf course. If they don’t win it’s a shame. But it’s match play and you never know.”

Deismond didn’t take Arizona State lightly, and is concerned about Illinois.

“What’s kind of gone under the radar screen is that those two teams are the two most improved teams in college golf this spring, period,” the Cal coach said.

Illinois, which is coached by PGA Professional Mike Small, is assured of matching its best NCAA finish since 1941, when it was fourth. The Illini lost in the quarterfinals in 2011, the third year of the match-play format.

“A bull’s-eye on your back means you’re ahead,” said Cal senior Max Homa, who won the NCAA individual title Thursday. “Pressure is a privilege. There can never be too much pressure.”

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California, Illinois, Georgia Tech and Alabama advance to NCAA semifinals

Manassero leads Nordea Masters after second round, Dodt makes two aces

STOCKHOLM — Matteo Manassero remains on track for a second consecutive European Tour victory after taking a two-shot lead at the Nordea Masters on Friday.

The 20-year-old Italian, who won last week’s BMW PGA Championship, added a 7-under 65 to his opening 66 for a 13-under total for two rounds on the Bro Hof Slott course in Stockholm.

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NORDEA MASTERS

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Manassero capped his round with four birdies in succession from the 11th hole.

“It was nice after my good start to come back today and shoot another great score,” he said. “I am glad the way the day has gone as I played solid. Over the last five or six holes I didn’t feel as good as I did at the beginning but I was scoring well which is a good sign.”

Finland’s Mikko Ilonen is second at 11 under after birdieing his last three holes for a 9-under 63. He matched a new course record, set just hours earlier by Scotland’s Peter Whiteford, who is third at 10 under.

It is the third time Ilonen has shot 63 in his career, while Whiteford’s effort is the 32-year-old’s lowest score in five full seasons competing on the European Tour and one shot lower than Lee Westwood’s 64 set en route to victory in the event last year.

“It was brilliant and a great round of golf, and it’s put me in a good position though it’s still a long way to go,” Whiteford said. “The scoring looks like it will be low over the weekend but it’s just great to be in contention again.”

Whiteford came close to his first Tour win a month ago, losing in a playoff for the Ballantine’s Championship in South Korea.

Sweden’s Peter Hanson, the highest ranked player in the field at No. 23, had reached 8 under after 16 holes. But then he double bogeyed the par-3 17th for a second successive 69 and a 6-under total.

Australia’s Andrew Dodt became the first player in European Tour history to record two holes-in-one in the same round when he aced his second, the 11th on the course, and his 16th hole, the seventh on the Stockholm layout.

He finished with a 65 to reach the 2-under mark and squeeze into the weekend rounds. Last year, Dodt secured the second-to-last Order of Merit position to retain full 2013 European Tour membership.

Among those missing the cut was Scotland’s Marc Warren (143) who had been involved in last Sunday’s BMW PGA playoff and former British Open champion Darren Clarke (145).

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Manassero leads Nordea Masters after second round, Dodt makes two aces

Fatherhood gives Memorial leader Haas better perspective

By Mark Lamport-Stokes

DUBLIN, Ohio (Reuters) – Bill Haas readily admits that changing diapers is more difficult than facing a tricky putt on a slick green but the American’s game has clearly benefited from the recent birth of his first child.

A four-times winner on the PGA Tour, Haas had missed the cut on his previous two starts on the U.S. circuit this month before returning home to spend welcome time with his young family.

Despite a few sleepless nights there because of his baby son, William Harlan Haas, Jr., the 31-year-old father felt rejuvenated and it showed at the Memorial Tournament on Friday as he charged into an early two-shot lead in the second round.

“I’ve missed my last two cuts before this week, so certainly my expectations were a little lower than they were earlier this year,” Haas told reporters after firing a five-under-par 67 in tough, windy conditions at Muirfield Village Golf Club.

“But I had a great two weeks off. I had a son and I’ve been having great fun with that at home with my wife. I think I’m just in a better frame of mind than I was three weeks ago after missing my second cut in a row.”

BETTER MINDSET

Haas, who missed the cut at the Wells Fargo Championship and then the PGA Tour’s flagship Players Championship, knew his mindset was in better shape when he did not react badly to his first bogey of the day on Friday, at the par-three 12th.

“I caught myself angry, but quickly I realized things are going good in my life right now,” Haas smiled.

“I don’t really say that to myself, but I think that there’s a lot more things important going on, so maybe I’m just a little quicker to rebound from being mad.”

Haas conceded he had found it extremely painful to leave home for this week’s PGA Tour event after being with his wife Julie and their young son for the first two weeks of his life.

“It was very difficult,” Haas said. “This is a tough week to skip. Only way I would have skipped it if he (William) was born maybe last week and I felt like I really needed to help my wife at home.

“But she’s getting a bunch of help. My parents and her parents both live in town and she’s getting a lot of help. And I’m getting tons of pictures and videos. I feel very informed with what’s going on.”

Haas bogeyed his final hole, the par-four 18th, on Friday after hitting his approach over the back of the green before failing to sink a tricky 12-footer for par.

Asked what was more difficult, that par putt or trying to change a diaper, Haas grinned: “Easiest is the putt on 18 but both are very rewarding. Changing a diaper is very rewarding.

“It’s been beyond expectations, you know, raising a child for only two weeks. It’s been fantastic and I look forward to the rest of the challenge.”

(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes; Editing by Frank Pingue)

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Fatherhood gives Memorial leader Haas better perspective

Golf-Fatherhood gives Memorial leader Haas better perspective

By Mark Lamport-Stokes

DUBLIN, Ohio, May 31 (Reuters) – Bill Haas readily admits that changing diapers is more difficult than facing a tricky putt on a slick green but the American’s game has clearly benefited from the recent birth of his first child.

A four-times winner on the PGA Tour, Haas had missed the cut on his previous two starts on the U.S. circuit this month before returning home to spend welcome time with his young family.

Despite a few sleepless nights there because of his baby son, William Harlan Haas, Jr., the 31-year-old father felt rejuvenated and it showed at the Memorial Tournament on Friday as he charged into an early two-shot lead in the second round.

“I’ve missed my last two cuts before this week, so certainly my expectations were a little lower than they were earlier this year,” Haas told reporters after firing a five-under-par 67 in tough, windy conditions at Muirfield Village Golf Club.

“But I had a great two weeks off. I had a son and I’ve been having great fun with that at home with my wife. I think I’m just in a better frame of mind than I was three weeks ago after missing my second cut in a row.”

BETTER MINDSET

Haas, who missed the cut at the Wells Fargo Championship and then the PGA Tour’s flagship Players Championship, knew his mindset was in better shape when he did not react badly to his first bogey of the day on Friday, at the par-three 12th.

“I caught myself angry, but quickly I realized things are going good in my life right now,” Haas smiled.

“I don’t really say that to myself, but I think that there’s a lot more things important going on, so maybe I’m just a little quicker to rebound from being mad.”

Haas conceded he had found it extremely painful to leave home for this week’s PGA Tour event after being with his wife Julie and their young son for the first two weeks of his life.

“It was very difficult,” Haas said. “This is a tough week to skip. Only way I would have skipped it if he (William) was born maybe last week and I felt like I really needed to help my wife at home.

“But she’s getting a bunch of help. My parents and her parents both live in town and she’s getting a lot of help. And I’m getting tons of pictures and videos. I feel very informed with what’s going on.”

Haas bogeyed his final hole, the par-four 18th, on Friday after hitting his approach over the back of the green before failing to sink a tricky 12-footer for par.

Asked what was more difficult, that par putt or trying to change a diaper, Haas grinned: “Easiest is the putt on 18 but both are very rewarding. Changing a diaper is very rewarding.

“It’s been beyond expectations, you know, raising a child for only two weeks. It’s been fantastic and I look forward to the rest of the challenge.” (Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes; Editing by Frank Pingue)

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Golf-Fatherhood gives Memorial leader Haas better perspective

Putting woes hold battling Tiger back at windy Memorial

By Mark Lamport-Stokes

DUBLIN, Ohio (Reuters) – Tiger Woods left himself with a mountain to climb in his bid for a sixth victory at the Memorial Tournament but said he was “not too disappointed” after carding a two-over-par 74 in Friday’s second round.

The American world number one, the defending champion here at Muirfield Village Golf Club, struggled with his putting on slick greens in tough, windy conditions to finish at one-over-par 145, a distant 10 shots behind early leader Bill Haas (67).

“Tough conditions out there and I didn’t exactly play my best either,” Woods told reporters after bogeying his final hole, the par-four ninth, before trudging up the hill toward the imposing clubhouse.

“I’m just trying to get under par for the day for my round, and that obviously didn’t turn out to be the case. I thought I had a good chance to at least get to even par for my round.

“The last hole I ended up making bogey. All in all, it was a day fought hard. I’m not too disappointed with it (his game). I’m not that far off. On a golf course like this, with the wind gusts like this, it’s tough.”

Woods missed only one fairway during the second round but hit just 10 of 18 greens in regulation and totaled 30 putts as he posted his worst score here after 36 holes since his tournament debut in 1997.

“It’s a little rough out there,” the 14-times major winner said after mixing two birdies with two bogeys and a double at the par-five 15th where he three-putted from just five feet.

“It’s not that hard to make bogeys and doubles on this golf course. You miss it in the wrong spot, get the wrong gust, it’s tough. We had a few shots in our group that ended up in special interesting spots.”

SPECTACULAR CHIP-IN

Woods, who triumphed by two shots here last year after spectacularly chipping in for birdie at the par-three 16th, is known for his brilliant putting but even he struggled on the fast-running greens on Friday.

“I had a hard time with the speed,” said the American, who has already won four PGA Tour titles this season in just seven starts. “They don’t look that fast, but they’re putting fast.

“They (putts) were moving all over the place. It’s tough. You try and stay below the hole as best you can, but sometimes you have to get the ball on the green. It was kind of a little mental thing I was struggling with out there.”

Though the fickle winds gusted up to up to 25mph on the challenging, Jack Nicklaus-designed layout, Woods felt good scores were still possible, as fellow American Haas proved.

“The way this golf course is playing right now, you have to take advantage of certain holes, the downwind holes for sure,” he said. “Some of the par-fives are playing more difficult than others.

“But you can shoot a round under par here, you’ve just got to really play well.”

(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes; Editing by Frank Pingue)

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Putting woes hold battling Tiger back at windy Memorial

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