Sunday, August 24, 2003

Clarke may be on verge of another WGC victory

Enquirer news services

AKRON, Ohio - Darren Clarke gave himself a chance to win another World Golf Championship, finishing with a 4-under-par 66 to take a one-stroke lead over Jonathan Kaye in the NEC Invitational.

Clarke was at 9-under 201. Kaye, who won for the first time on the PGA Tour this year at the Buick Classic, finished strong for a 65.

Clarke's biggest win came three years ago in the Match Play Championship, when he hammered Tiger Woods in the 36-hole final.

Despite three bogeys in four holes during the middle of his round, Woods regrouped to shoot a 67 Saturday and was three strokes behind. Woods has won the NEC Invitational the last three times it has been played at Firestone.

Chris Riley, a co-leader with David Toms after Friday, had an even-par 70 and was two shots behind at 203. Davis Love III had a solid 68 and also was at 204 with Woods, while the group at 5-under 205 included U.S. Ryder Cup captain Hal Sutton, former U.S. Open champ Retief Goosen, Northern Kentuckian Steve Flesch and Brad Faxon.

U.S. AMATEUR: Teenagers Casey Wittenberg of Memphis, Tenn., and Nick Flanagan of Australia each jumped out to early leads in winning their semifinal matches to advance to today's 36-hole final at Oakmont (Pa.) Country Club. Wittenberg, 18, defeated Lee Williams, 21, of Alexander City, Ala., 5 and 4. Flanagan, 19, defeated David Oh, 22, of Los Angeles, 1 up.

RENO-TAHOE OPEN: Dennis Paulson made five straight birdies in a round of 6-under 66 and was tied for the lead with Tim Herron at 10-under 134 after two rounds of the PGA Tour event. Paulson and half the 132-player field had to complete the rain-interrupted second round Saturday. Franklin's Frank Lickliter was tied for 47th at 143.

CHAMPIONS TOUR: Don Pooley shot a 4-under 67 to emerge with a one-stroke lead after two rounds of the Allianz Championship, which is poised for a wild finish today at West Des Moines, Iowa.

Six challengers were within two strokes of Pooley, who had surgery for a torn ligament in his left shoulder Jan. 3 and could not play for five months. But he has been solid in two days at Glen Oaks, topping the field at 9-under 133.

TREVINO ENTERS KROGER: Lee Trevino, winner of 58 PGA Tour events, will play at the Sept. 5-7 Champions Tour event at the TPC at River's Bend, tournament director Margie French announced.

Trevino is a two-time winner of three majors: the U.S. Open (1968 and 1971), the British Open (1971-72) and the PGA (1974 and 1984).

He has won $178,000 in seven appearances at the Kroger Classic. His last appearance was in 2000.

LPGA WACHOVIA CLASSIC: Candie Kung shot a 6-under 66 for a 204 total to take a one-stroke lead over Meg Mallon after the third round at Kutztown, Pa.

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