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Two-Shot Lead Surprises Singh

His 68 puts him atop a tight leaderboard at the Western Open. Hops go the right way for Woods, who trails by three.

July 09, 2006|Ed Sherman | Chicago Tribune

LEMONT, Ill. — Vijay Singh walked off Cog Hill pleasantly surprised Saturday.

When Singh saw a bunch of low early scores, including Tiger Woods' 66, he figured he would have to put up a similar number in the final pairing. He didn't dare dream a round of 68 would leave him with a two-shot lead after three rounds of the Cialis Western Open.

But the unexpected scenario played out that way as Singh, at 11-under-par 202 for 54 holes, holds the edge over a fivesome at nine under: Carl Pettersson (65 Saturday), Mathew Goggin (66), Stewart Cink (69), Trevor Immelman (69) and Joe Ogilvie (69).

In a threesome at eight under are Woods, defending champion Jim Furyk (69) and Scott Gutschewski, a Monday qualifier who shot a 69.

Singh felt fortunate to be in his position, especially after a bad bogey on the par-five ninth put him at even-par 35 at the turn.

"I was at eight under, and I thought, well, I have to get it to 11, 12 under to be in touch," Singh said. "I thought the leading score would be at least 13 [under], but to my surprise, I'm the leader."

The situation couldn't have played out better for Woods. He trailed leader Daniel Chopra by seven shots when he went out for his midmorning tee time. When he finished, he also figured the leader could get to as low as 13 under. He thought there were a few more 66s out there.

Turns out there weren't. Besides Singh's 68, none of the other top contenders did better than 69. Singh thought the course played tougher during the afternoon.

"I think they watered the greens overnight, and the early part of the day, it's still pretty soft," Singh said. "Like I did yesterday, we were spinning the balls back no matter what we were hitting. But in the afternoon, unless you have a sand wedge or an L-wedge, it's going to take one big hop."

The hops helped Woods, who enters today only three shots back. With the tight leaderboard, he probably needs another 66 to give himself a good shot at winning his fourth Western.

"I'm going to have to post a pretty good number tomorrow to give myself a chance with a few holes to go," Woods said.

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