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The Journal Gazette

  • Associated Press Leader Peter Malnati hits from a sand trap on the fourth hole during the second round of the Wells Fargo Championship on Friday.

Saturday, May 05, 2018 1:00 am

GOLF

Wells Fargo tight as Woods struggles

Associated Press

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Peter Malnati and Tiger Woods both had reason to celebrate on the ninth green at Quail Hollow at the end of their rounds.

Malnati was coming off two straight birdies to take the lead Friday in the Wells Fargo Championship when he put his 5-iron in a deep bunker to the right, with the green running away from him. He was trying to blast out to 15 feet, but he got the club too much under the ball and feared for the worst until it cleared the lip by inches.

Malnati emphatically wiped his hand across his brow, made the 6-foot par putt for a 3-under 68 and had a one-shot lead over Jason Day and Aaron Wise.

“Pretty scary when I hit it,” he said. “I got away with it, looked like a genius.”

Hours earlier, Woods stood over an 18-foot putt on No. 9, his final hole of another ordinary round that up until then featured no birdies. He finally made one, and stretched out both hands in mock celebration when it dropped.

“I'm on a hot streak right now. I made the last putt,” he said.

Never mind that it was the only putt he made longer than 5 feet. Or that he was nine shots out of the lead in a tie for 48th, his worst position through 36 holes in his last five tournaments. Woods made the cut with one shot to spare.

Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson also had to sweat it out.

McIlroy, the only two-time winner at the Wells Fargo Championship, celebrated turning 29 Friday by matching his worst score at Quail Hollow with a 76, including three bogeys over the last five holes.

He was in the same spot as Woods, nine shots out.

“Struggled with my game, struggled to get my ball in the fairway, made some pretty bad mistakes, didn't birdie any of the par 5s,” McIlroy said. “It just was one of those days where I just couldn't get anything going.”

Mickelson wasn't that wild – three bogeys, two birdies, another 72, and he made the cut with one shot to spare.

LPGA: In The Colony, Texas, France's Celine Boutier shot a 1-under 70 to grab the lead among the 12 golfers who finished the rain-delayed first round of the LPGA Texas Classic. After Thursday's play was canceled and Friday's began following an 8 1/2-hour delay because of rain, the tournament was cut from 72 holes to 36. All 144 golfers will play both rounds with the payout limited to the top 70 and ties. Half the field got on the course Friday.

PGA TOUR CHAMPIONS: In The Woodlands, Texas, Bernhard Langer played his best round on the PGA Tour Champions in more than two years, shooting a course-record 9-under 63 at The Woodlands Country Club to take a three-stroke lead in the Insperity Invitational.

Seeking his first victory of the year after seven wins in 2017, Langer, 60, birdied the first two holes and turned in 32. He added birdies on five of the next seven holes to get to 9 under and distance himself from the field.

The 63 was Langer's best round since a 10-under 62 at the Chubb Classic in 2016.

Scott Dunlap and Jeff Maggert each shot 66 and were three shots back. Defending champion John Daly opened with a 72.