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Golf Roundup

Ishikawa makes move, trails Scott by a stroke

Associated Press / August 7, 2011

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Ryo Ishikawa amazed even his peers in a charity-driven sport when he pledged in March to donate his entire earnings on the golf course to the tsunami relief fund in his native Japan.

He could double the donation today in a World Golf Championship event that is surprising even him.

Coming off a missed cut in Japan, never better than 20th in stroke play in America, the 19-year-old sensation made six birdies and twice escaped trouble in the trees yesterday for a 6-under-par 64 that put him in the final group and only one shot behind Adam Scott in the Bridgestone Invitational in Akron, Ohio.

Along with a $1.4 million payoff, Ishikawa could become the youngest winner of a PGA Tour event in 100 years.

“I think it’s a little too early to think about winning this whole thing as of now,’’ Ishikawa said. “But I do feel that I was able to play at a pretty good level, a pretty high level today. Actually, I’m a little surprised of how I performed.’’

Scott turned his fortunes around when he decided to stick with what was working, going to a fade off the tee. He poured in four birdies on the back nine for a 66, giving the 31-year-old Australian a shot at his first WGC title.

Scott was at 12-under 198, the lowest 54-hole score at Firestone in 10 years. He will play in the last group with Ishikawa. In front of them will be Jason Day, whose 66 put him one shot behind. Day and Scott tied for second in the Masters this year.

Former Hopkinton High star Keegan Bradley, a tour rookie, had a 68 and was two shots behind, along with Martin Laird (67). The group another shot behind included world No. 1 Luke Donald, who had a 64 despite a bogey on the last hole, and Rickie Fowler, who holed out from the fairway for eagle for the second straight day. He needed that for a 69 to move within three shots of the lead.

About the only thing Tiger Woods can now get out of this week are four rounds and some points to help him qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs at the end of the month. Woods, a seven-time winner at Firestone who hasn’t played in nearly three months, struggled again with his putting and had a 72. He was 13 shots behind in a tie for 38th in the 76-man field.

“I’ve just got to put together a good round and let it build,’’ Woods said.

Woods opened with a bogey that started with shots to the right and left of the fairway, and he didn’t hit a single fairway on the front nine. He attributed that to hitting the ball straighter, which is something he’s not used to doing.

A win would make Ishikawa the youngest winner of a tour event since John McDermott at the 1911 US Open at 19, who was one week younger than Ishikawa.

As for the money? He already has donated about $740,000 this year from his earnings, which include a pair of runner-up finishes in Japan. Along with his money pledges for making birdies and eagles, the total donation is pushing $1 million.

“There are people that have no homes right now, and we actually don’t know how long it’s going to take for Japan to recover,’’ Ishikawa said through a translator. “So I would just like to give my support to Japan.’’

Day took an early lead with an eagle on the par-5 second hole, gave it back with consecutive bogeys to start the back nine and finished with a flourish, three birdies over his last five holes.

PGA - Scott Piercy reeled off eight consecutive birdies to post a 28 on the front nine and eagled the 616-yard closing hole to break the course record with an 11-under 61, taking a two-stroke lead after three rounds of the Reno-Tahoe Open in Reno.

Piercy, winless in three years on the tour, enters the final round at 13-under 203, two ahead of Josh Teater and three ahead of a group that includes 1995 PGA champion Steve Elkington.

Elkington had a 68 to get to 10-under 206. He was tied for third with 2006 Reno champ Chris Riley, first-round leader Nick O’Hern, Pat Perez, John Merrick, and Blake Adams. Two-time Reno winner Vaughn Taylor and 2007 champ Steve Flesch were at 9 under.

Champions - Peter Senior fired a 5-under 67 to climb into a tie atop the leaderboard with John Huston (68) at 12-under 132 after two rounds of the 3M Championships in Blaine, Minn.

Jay Haas, a first-round co-leader with Huston, shot 69 and rests a shot back in second. Mark Calcavecchia had a 68 to move into a tie for fourth with Tom Lehman (69), two strokes back.