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GOLF ROUNDUP

Woods in His Favorite Spot, Tied for Lead With Singh

November 05, 2000|From Associated Press

Each round of the Tour Championship brings a new rival for Tiger Woods. The only ones who matter are not at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, but in the record book.

And Woods is only 18 holes away from joining them.

After knocking down the flags and then getting a few good bounces out of the trees, Woods blew away David Duval on Saturday and finished with a four-under-par 66, giving him a share of the lead with Masters champion Vijay Singh.

A victory today--and Woods has won 19 consecutive PGA Tour events when leading after 54 holes--would put him in the books with Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan and Sam Snead as the only players to win 10 tour events in one year.

"I moved up in the standings, and that's the whole idea," Woods said.

Despite a three-putt from about 30 feet on No. 17, Woods finished tied with Singh at 10-under 200 on an East Lake course that was softened slightly by afternoon showers.

Woods and Singh share at least one thing in common. Both can post a good score and complain about it. Singh might have had reason Saturday, missing only one green and a lot of birdie chances in his round of 65.

"I'm disappointed with a 65--how about that?" Singh said.

Phil Mickelson saved par on the last two holes with putts of 20 and 12 feet and also had a bogey-free 65 to finish one stroke out of the lead.

Ernie Els bogeyed the 18th for a 68 and was four strokes out of the lead.

"It will be a fun day for a few guys," Mickelson said.

There's rarely a dull moment when Woods is involved. Three of his first four birdies came from inside 18 inches, including an eight-iron that nearly went in the hole on the par-three sixth. Even his bad shots were interesting--two on the back nine bounced through the trees and into the first cut of rough, away from danger.

Duval?

Healthy and inspired by playing in the final group with Woods, he floundered on the back nine and wound up with a 74, dropping him seven shots out of the lead.

"I didn't get many breaks today," Duval said. "I got an awful lot of breaks for a long time a few years ago, but this year a lot of breaks haven't gone my way."

He was paired with Woods for the sixth time in their careers, and Woods has outplayed him on the last five occasions.

Next up for Woods is Singh, and they also have some baggage. Two weeks ago in the Presidents Cup, Singh's caddie had "Tiger Who?" stitched on the back of his cap for their singles match, which Woods won, 2 and 1.

Singh joked that he would fire caddie Paul Tesori if he did the same thing today.

"My goal is to go out and win tomorrow," Singh said. "If I hit the ball like I am and make some putts, nobody is going to beat me."

Then again, Singh has reason to be so optimistic. He hasn't made a bogey over his last 22 holes and has a solid history at East Lake, having lost in a playoff to Hal Sutton two years ago in the Tour Championship.

But history favors Woods when it comes to the final round. The only time he lost in that situation was against Ed Fiori in the Quad City Classic, his third tournament as a pro.

"I enjoy playing in that position," Woods said. "I enjoy having the lead because that means you can afford to make a mistake."

Singh birdied the first two holes, surged into the lead with birdies on Nos. 8, 9 and 10, then closed with eight pars.

"If Tiger plays better than me, there's nothing I can do about it," Singh said. "I can't worry about how he plays or how Phil is going to play. I'm just going to worry about how I'm playing. And right now, I'm pretty comfortable with the way I'm playing."

*

Tom Watson made six consecutive birdies on the back nine in a five-under 67 that moved him within two shots of leader Leonard Thompson at the Senior Tour Championship at Murrells Inlet, S.C.

Thompson had no bogeys for his second consecutive 66 and had a two-putt birdie on the 18th to go to 14 under. He and John Jacobs, who shot a 68 and was second at 13 under, will join Watson in the final group of the season's last event.

"I don't know if you say he's got an advantage because he's Tom Watson," Jacobs said. "He's got an advantage because he's a hell of a golfer."

Watson gave the crowd a rush at the 18th, landing a three-wood just off the back of the par-five, 538-yard hole in two. But he stubbed his chip and came up short on a 15-foot birdie try.

Watson wasn't the only ex-PGA Tour star to make a third-round run. Hubert Green had 68 and was three shots behind Thompson. Ray Floyd, a two-time Senior Tour Championship winner, had a 66 and was four shots off the lead.

*

Steve Lowery shot a third-round 65, extending his lead to three strokes at the Southern Farm Bureau Classic at Madison, Miss.

Fred Funk moved into contention with a 64, putting him in a tie for second with Kenny Perry and Billy Andrade at 17-under 199.

"My goal was to get in position to try to win the golf tournament and I am if Steve would just calm down a little bit," said Funk, who won this event in 1998.

Said Lowery, whose 196 is a tournament record through 54 holes: "I'm trying not to worry about other people. If I play the way I can play. I can win."

*

Vicki Goetze-Ackerman, seeking her first LPGA victory, fired a career-best 66 to share the lead with Sophie Gustafson entering the final round of the Mizuno Classic at Otsu, Japan.

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