Graeme McDowell has done a lot right this year, but he hasn’t won. He now has one last chance to fix that.
Back on the course that has provided some key moments in his career, McDowell opened with three straight birdies Friday and finished strong for a 6-under 66, giving him a three-shot lead going into the weekend at the World Challenge in Thousand Oaks, Calif.
“A good day’s work,” McDowell said.
Bo Van Pelt saved an up-and-down bogey from the drop zone on the final hole for a 68, leaving him tied for second with Keegan Bradley and Jim Furyk, who each had a 69. Tournament host and defending champion Tiger Woods was tied for the lead on the back nine until he stalled and settled for a 69. He was four shots behind.
This is the final destination of a whirlwind trip for McDowell, who spent two weeks in China, a short holiday in Dubai, a tournament in Australia, back to Dubai and then across eight time zones to California.
McDowell always feels relaxed at Sherwood Country Club, with an 18-man field and no cut. He won in 2010, beating Woods in a playoff, and was runner-up in 2009. Now, he again has the finish line clearly in his sights. He hasn’t hoisted a trophy since that birdie-birdie finish to beat Woods at Sherwood in 2010.
McDowell was at 9-under 135.
LAWRIE SHINES IN SUN CITY
Scotland’s Paul Lawrie shot a 3-under 69 at the Nedbank Golf Challenge in Sun City, South Africa, to take a one-stroke lead over Germany’s Martin Kaymer in the 12-man event. Lawrie’s 4-under 140 total was three shots ahead of South Africans Louis Oosthuizen (72) and Charl Schwartzel (71), Italy’s Francesco Molinari (71) and American Bill Haas (73).
S. KOREAN LEADS Q SCHOOL
South Korea’s Meen Whee Kim shot a 5-under 67 on PGA West’s Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course in La Quinta, Calif., to maintain a one-stroke lead after the third round of the PGA Tour qualifying tournament.
The 20-year-old Kim had an 18-under 131 total in the six-round event. The final top 25 and ties will receive 2013 PGA Tour cards and the next 50 and ties will earn Web.com Tour cards.
Sweden’s Robert Karlsson was second after a 65.
University Place brothers Andrew and Michael Putnam have some work to do over the final three rounds. Andrew (70) was tied for 84th at 4 under, and Michael (68) was tied for 108th at 2 under.
THAI TOPS LPGA QUALIFYING
Thailand’s Moriya Jutanugarn shot a 3-under 69 to open a six-stroke lead after the third round of the LPGA Tour qualifying tournament in Daytona Beach, Fla.
Jutanugarn, 18, had a 13-under total at LPGA International. The final top 20 in the five-round event will earn full tour status in 2013.