Sunday, August 09, 2009

AKRON, Ohio (AP) — Tim Clark finished the third round of the Bridgestone in a tie for third place, but within an hour was tied for 14th after being assessed a two-shot penalty for not properly replacing his ball on the 16th green.

\nClark's ball was in the line of playing partner Padraig Harrington, so he moved the mark one club head away.

\nAfter completing a 71, he expressed doubt about whether he had returned his ball to the correct spot after Harrington putted.

\n"It is an unfortunate situation," Clark said. "What happened is that Padraig asked me to move my ball on the last hole, and it got me thinking that I may have forgotten to move it back on the 16th hole. I just had a feeling that I had not moved it back."

\nTour official Slugger White looked at television footage and determined that Clark had not put the ball in the proper spot. He then showed the video to Clark, who agreed.

\n"He came up and he looked at it and he knew right away as well - as honest as he could possibly be," White said. "I'm sure it'll come back to him tenfold. That's the gentleman's game we deal with."

\nClark was relieved he had done the right thing.

\n"The good thing about it is that I called it on myself," he said. "That sort of saved some integrity for me. That is about the only good thing that I can take out of the situation."

ANOTHER GREEN JACKET: Masters champion Angel Cabrera made a special detour on his way to the Bridgestone Invitational so he could slip on a green jacket at the club where he won a major.

\nOnly he went to Pittsburgh, not Augusta.

\nCabrera returned to Oakmont Country Club for the first time since winning the 2007 U.S. Open for his first major. The club invited him, showed him the new Angel Cabrera Suite and honored him with a membership.

\nAll members at Oakmont wear green jackets.

\n"It was very emotional," Cabrera said.

\nHe was supposed to play with his coach, manager and head pro Bob Ford, but was worn out from the overnight flight that took him from Cordoba, Argentina, through Santiago, Chile, to Atlanta and up to Pittsburgh.

\nInstead, he walked out to the 18th green and gazed toward the tee, where Cabrera hit what he still considers the best shot of his career, a driver that split the fairway and set up a winning par.

\n"It looked so different without the grandstands," he said. "But it was a special feeling."

\nThe pins were set as they were that Sunday two years ago, and Cabrera said he took two balls with him to replay the downhill putt from 20 feet that he lagged close for his par.

\nIt was different from going back to Augusta National.

\n"I go there every year," Cabrera said. "We won't go back to Oakmont until 2016 (for the U.S. Open)."

\nCabrera will go back in seven years as a U.S. Open champion - and an Oakmont member.

\nSTILL HURTING: It's clear that Kenny Perry remains pained by the condition of his gravely ill mother.

\nMildred Perry is under hospice care as she battles blood cancer back home in Kentucky.

\nPerry, who did not defend his title at the Buick Open so he could be with his mom, said he may cut back on his schedule soon.

\n"Well, if it gets worse, yeah, I've thought about it. We'll see," he said. "Dad told me to come out and play for right now."

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\nPerry somehow continues to play well. He had a 4-under 66 to get within striking distance of the top spot at the Bridgestone.

\nBut thoughts of his mother are never far away.

\n"No, you never can forget about it," he said.

\nThen he solemnly added, "It'll be three to nine months she's got left."

\nPHIL UPDATE: Phil Mickelson continues to shake off the rust.

\nMickelson returned to competition this week at the Bridgestone after six weeks away to care for his wife, Amy, who is battling breast cancer.

\nSo far, he has yet to find a swing on which he can rely.

\n"I scored terribly but hit it much better than in the first two rounds," Mickelson said after sagging to a 75 in Saturday's rainy third round. He posted a 70 and 69 in the first two rounds and now stands at 4-over 214, well behind the leaders.

\nLast week Mickelson did get in a practice round at Hazeltine, site of next week's PGA Championship. He hoped the use the Bridgestone as a springboard.

\n"I'm starting to hit the ball a lot better even though the score didn't show it," he said.

\nEURO BOUND? Danny Lee got an education on Saturday at the Bridgestone.

\nThe South Korean-born, New Zealand-raised 19-year-old was paired with ponytailed 45-year-old Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez.

\n"I was struggling out there," Lee said. "Playing with the greatest players like Jimenez, I learn other things from him."

\nFor instance, Lee hurried up to shots, took a quick look at his line and then launched a shot. Jimenez savored the moment, contemplating the angles and focusing himself before approaching the ball.

\n"The way I play and the way he plays are just totally different," Lee said. "He's taking his time. I never take my time before I hit. I took about 4 seconds to hit my shot and he's, like, more than one minute."

\nJimenez had a 66. Lee, the youngest U.S. Amateur champion ever, had a 75.

\nLee now finds himself far back in the pack after opening with a 68. He needs to earn $188,000 combined at the Bridgestone and the Wyndham on Aug. 20-23 to avoid having to go to Q-school.

\nHe said on Saturday he had no intention of going through qualifying, instead falling back on his two-year exemption on the European tour for winning the Johnnie Walker Classic while still an amateur.

\n"I don't think I'm going to try the Q school," he said. "I'm just going to go off to Europe and try it."

\nTOBACCO LUNCH: For his part, Jimenez never goes anywhere without his cigars.

\nHe always packs a full humidor whenever he travels to the States, two-weeks worth for the Bridgestone followed by the PGA.

\nAsked if he knew of a good cigar store in Akron, he said, "The only thing, you cannot sell Cuban cigars here, and I bring my own personal cigars from home."

\nSo important are the stogies that they apparently provide nourishment.

\n"I smoke in the practice rounds but not in the tournament rounds," he said after finishing off his 66 and talking with reporters. "But as soon as I finish now" - he held up his lit cigar with a flourish - "my lunch!"

\nCAN YOU TOP THIS: J.B. Holmes, among the biggest hitters on the PGA Tour, said he wasn't hitting the ball well enough the first two days at the Bridgestone to match drives with the equally long Alvaro Quiros.

\n"Both of us hit one good, we're pretty close," Holmes said with a grin. "I think it just depends on who hits one the best."

\nHolmes is third in the field with an average of 334.3 yards on the four measured drives. Quiros is at 342.3 yards, second-best.

\nThe leader in length? Cabrera at 344 yards per drive.

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