Stenson, DeChambeau Tied At Bay Hill

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Henrik Stenson gave himself another chance to win at Bay Hill, and he made it a little bit tougher on Tiger Woods.

Stenson made three big par saves at the turn to keep the round from getting away from him, ran off three straight birdies on his back nine and posted a 3-under 69 that gave him a share of the 36-hole lead Friday with Bryson DeChambeau in the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

The chilly weather warmed in the afternoon, just not enough for Woods to do the same. He didn’t make a birdie until the 12th hole, never had a birdie putt inside 12 feet except for the par 5s on the back nine, and did well to scrap it around for a 72 to go into the weekend seven shots behind.

“I didn’t hit the ball close, I didn’t hit the ball well,” Woods said. “But I was just hanging in there … just try not to shoot myself out of the tournament.”

DeChambeau finished strong with an 8-iron into 7 feet for eagle on the par-5 16th and an approach to 4 feet for birdie on the 18th, giving him a 66 and his third time with a share of the 36-hole lead on the PGA Tour.

“I think every week I’m good enough to win or play my best,” he said. “It’s just sometimes a kick here, a break here and that’s just what happens.”

Stenson and DeChambeau were at 11-under 133, two shots clear of PGA Tour rookie Talor Gooch (70).

Stenson had a two-shot lead going into the final round in 2015 at Bay Hill and stumbled at the end after getting put on the clock. Two years ago, he was tied for the lead with five holes to play until two bogeys over the next three holes.

His putting carried him to a 64 in the opening round, and it saved him again on Friday.

“I made some great par putts and a bunker up-and-down, so that was really key today to keep the round going,” Stenson said. “I didn’t drop a shot, where I could have easily dropped three shots on those holes. So that was crucial.”

Temperatures were around 50 when he teed off, and it was clear Stenson has been gone from Sweden too long, living in Dubai and more recently in Orlando. If not for the tournament, he described this as a day to sit in the clubhouse with hot chocolate and wait for it to get warm.

“I might be Swedish, but I’ve gone soft ,” he said. “I lived in a nice climate for too many years.”

He was strong when it mattered. Stenson shanked a fairway bunker shot short and right of the green on the 16th and pitched some 70 feet long, from where he had to make an 8-footer to escape with par. He found the front bunker on the par-3 17th, hit out to 15 feet and made that one, and then saved par from the bunker left of the 18th green down the slope toward the green, holing a 5-foot putt.

Stenson settled down from there and ran off three straight birdies, two from close range, the last one from 20 feet on the fringe.

Ten players were separated by five shots going into the weekend, a group that includes Rickie Fowler (71) and Patrick Reed (70). Rory McIlroy was slowed again, this time with a pair of bogeys to start his back nine, though he could accept a 70. McIlroy was six shots back, which felt like a little bit more considering the way Stenson is playing.

Stenson is renowned for his ball striking, and 12 birdies over 36 holes would suggest he’s dialed in this week.

“Henrik has played great,” McIlroy said. “I’m going to have to play very, very good golf on the weekend to catch him, but I’m in a better position this Friday than I was last Friday, so I’ll take anything I can get.”

Woods walked off the course early Thursday afternoon just one shot out of the lead, and the margin keeps getting wider — four shots back by the end of the opening round, now seven shots back going into the weekend.

It was clear early that this would be a struggle, especially when he ran a putt off the green and onto the fringe at No. 9 for this second bogey. He at least managed to birdie the par 5s on the back, and had a tough par save on the 15th. With his ball plugged near the side of the slip, he swung a little harder to make sure the shaft didn’t get stuck banging into the side of the turf and holed a 20-foot par putt.

The disappointment was his wedge play. He never got anything particularly close.

“Today was just a bad day,” he said.

Woods, coming off a runner-up finish last week at Innisbrook, is an eight-time winner at Bay Hill, most recently in 2013 when he last played the Arnold Palmer Invitational. He trailed after 36 holes in four of those victories, including a seven-shot deficit to Vijay Singh in 2008.

“There’s a lot of guys between myself and the lead,” said Woods, who was tied for 17th. “And if it gets warm like it’s supposed to get on the weekend, then we’re going to make some birdies.”

LPGA

PHOENIX (AP) — Cydney Clanton took the lead into the weekend at the Founders Cup. She knows what she has to do to have a chance for her first LPGA Tour victory.

“You just have to go in attack mode, because everybody else is going to go in attack mode,” Clanton said.

She was aggressive on the back nine Friday at Desert Ridge, taking dead aim at the back left pin on the par-4 13th and holing out for eagle from 72 yards. The ball flew into the cup on the first bounce.

“It’s pretty special to hole out,” Clanton said. “Any time you don’t have to putt it’s nice.”

Clanton shot a 5-under 67, playing the back nine in 5-under 31 to reach 9-under 135. She also birdied the par-5 11th and 15th and the par-4 18th. Winless on the LPGA Tour, the 28-year-old former Auburn player’s lone bogey came on the par-4 third after a penalty stoke because her ball moved.

“It was unfortunate,” Clanton said. “In my head I didn’t actually make a bogey today.”

Ariya Jutanugarn, Marina Alex, Karine Icher and Mariajo Uribe were a stroke back on a calmer and warmer day after wind and cold made scoring more difficult Thursday. Alex had a 66 to match the best score of the day.

“If the conditions are favorable tomorrow, scores will be low, so just attack and take advantage of everything you can,” Alex said. “If that’s not the case, just adjust the game plan and play what’s in front of me.”

Jutanugarn and Uribe shot 68, and Icher had a 69. Jessica Korda and Mo Martin were 7 under, and Michelle Wie topped the group at 6 under.

Korda had a 68. She won three weeks ago in Thailand in her return from surgery to correct a severe overbite, and is fighting a head cold. She’s still too sore to eat many foods. “I’ve been crushing mac and cheese like it’s my job,” Korda said.

Martin shot 66.

“My game is in a special place,” Martin said. “Just nice to see it come together.”

Wie had a 68, finishing with an 18-foot birdie putt on the par-4 ninth.

“I made a couple stupid errors out there today, but made up for it with some good putts,” Wie said.

She won two weeks ago in Singapore for her first victory since the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open.

“Having a lot of fun playing,” Wie said. “Just trying to build confidence every round, every shot. Just trying to keep it consistent and just try to do the best I can every round out there.”

Playing partner Brittany Lincicome shot a 66 to match Wie at 6 under. Lincicome won the season-opening event in the Bahamas.

“I drove it well, which is obviously key on this golf course,” Lincicome said. “You can attack, but you have to be in the fairway.”

Tour rookie Caroline Inglis was 5 under after a 68 in the event honoring the 13 women who founded the LPGA Tour in 1950. She received the Marilyn Smith Scholarship as a freshman at Oregon and got to meet Smith, the 88-year-old founder.

“I just gave her a big hug and said, ‘Thank you so much for everything you’ve done for not only me but women’s golf,'” Inglis said. “She’s been such a pioneer for the women’s game. That was pretty special to meet her. She’s just a sweetheart.”

Defending champion Anna Nordqvist was 2 under after a 73.

DIVOTS: Paula Creamer shot 75-73 to miss the cut in her first event since surgery on her left wrist in October. She confirmed Wednesday that she has split with husband Derek Heat after three years. Hall of Famer Colin Montgomerie walked outside the ropes watching Creamer. He’s in the area working with Kevin Craggs — also Creamer’s instructor — at Troon North. … Lydia Ko, 2016 winner Sei Young Kim and Brooke Henderson also failed to advance to the weekend.

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press.