Hossler in 3-way tie for lead, Woods 4 back at TPC Potomac

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - By Doug Fer­gu­son

POTOMAC, MD. » Beau Hossler has been hang­ing around the lead on the week­end in search of his first PGA Tour vic­tory, and he gets an­other chance at the Quicken Loans Na­tional. So does Tiger Woods. Hossler, the 23-year-old in his first full year on the tour, birdied four of his last five holes and fin­ished with a 35-foot birdie putt on No. 18 for a 4-un­der 66, giv­ing him a share of the lead with Ryan Ar­mour and Brian Gay.

Ar­mour (65) and Gay (64) each made short birdies on the par-3 ninth hole to fin­ish their rounds and tie for lead.

Woods fin­ished a steamy morn­ing on the TPC Potomac at Avenel with two pars that felt just as big. On a day in which he made seven birdies — all but two of them from 15 feet or longer — Woods didn’t let a good round go to waste at the end. He saved par from the bunker on the eighth and ninths holes for a 65. That matched his low score of the year and left him four shots be­hind, the clos­est he has been go­ing into the week­end since he was two shots back at the Valspar Cham­pi­onship.

“I’m not that far back,” Woods said. “The scores aren’t go­ing to be that low and it’s go­ing to be a tough week­end. It will be over 100 de­grees and it will be a long week­end men­tally and phys­i­cally. I’m in a good po­si­tion now.”

Hossler has at least a share of the 36-hole lead for the third time this year, and he had a close call in the Hous­ton Open, los­ing in a play­off to Ian Poul­ter. He has shot in the 60s in 21 of his last 38 rounds.

“I’ve had a lot of re­ally good rounds. Un­for­tu­nately, I’ve had some kind of high ones that are un­char­ac­ter­is­tic for me,” Hossler said. “I think that was six in a row in the 60s, so I’m feel­ing good. I’m get­ting it in play nicely off the tee and I’m rolling the put­ter re­ally well, so that ob­vi­ously helps.”

They were at 9-un­der 131, one shot ahead of Francesco Moli­nari (65) and Billy Horschel (68). Moli­nari, who is play­ing the Quicken Loans Na­tional and John Deere Clas­sic with hopes of boost­ing his FedEx Cup stand­ing, hit all 18 greens in reg­u­la­tion.

Woods was among 20 play­ers sep­a­rated by four shots go­ing into the week­end that is ex­pected to be hot as ever along the Potomac River.

The course rated the fourth-tough­est on the PGA Tour sched­ule last year be­hind only three ma­jors, though the greens have re­mained mostly re­cep­tive even un­der a blis­ter­ing sun on Fri­day.

“I think the course changed a lit­tle bit at the end of the day,” Horschel said after fin­ish­ing in the af­ter­noon. “I think the course will be a lit­tle bit firm, a lit­tle bit faster, but I don’t think it’s go­ing to be any­where what it was last year, so I think you can still go out there and score. We’re go­ing to try to put two more rounds in the 60s, see where it puts us for Sun­day.”

Hossler had a 66 on Sun­day at the Trav­el­ers Cham­pi­onship to tie for sec­ond be­hind Bubba Watson. He be­gan his big fin­ish by driv­ing just through the green on the reach­able 14th for a sim­ple up-and-down birdie, stuffed his ap­proach to 3 feet on the next hole, and then took on the wa­ter to the right of the green on the par-3 17th and hit that to 6 feet for birdie.

Gay started on the back nine and opened with five birdies in eight holes be­fore his mo­men­tum slowed. Ar­mour, play­ing in the same group, had only one birdie in 10 holes un­til he fin­ished with four birdies on the front nine.

“Brian got off to such a hot start, you were just try­ing to keep up,” Ar­mour said. “You were just try­ing not to fall too far be­hind him, and if you do that, you prob­a­bly were up near the lead.”

Rickie Fowler, the only player from the top 10 in the world play­ing this week, shot a 66 and was in the group five shots be­hind.

Woods didn’t make a putt over 8 feet in the open­ing round. He started Fri­day with a 25-foot birdie putt on the par-5 10th, and after a bo­gey from the haz­ard on the next hole, fol­lowed that with an 18foot birdie putt. His big­gest shot was chip­ping in from 80 feet on the 18th for birdie as he made the turn. His fa­vorite shot was a 3-wood he ham­mered from 282 yards onto the green at the par-5 sec­ond hole for a two-putt birdie.

It added to a 65 and a re­al­is­tic chance go­ing into the week­end.

“I think I’m not that far away from putting it to­gether where I can win,” Woods said.

NICK WASS — THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Beau Hossler watches his tee shot on the 17th tee dur­ing the sec­ond round of the Quicken Loans Na­tional golf tour­na­ment, Fri­day in Potomac, Md.

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