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Three lead at Kapalua

Robert Garrigus, Steve Stricker and Jonathan Byrd are tied at PGA season opener.

January 08, 2011
  • Robert Garrigus reacts after sinking a 50-foot eagle putt on the 18th hole to join Steve Stricker and Jonathan Byrd in the lead at the Tournament of Champions.
Robert Garrigus reacts after sinking a 50-foot eagle putt on the 18th hole… (Sam Greenwood / Getty Images )

kapalua, hawaii — Robert Garrigus recovered from an atrocious start Saturday by holing a 50-foot eagle putt on the 18th hole to join Steve Stricker and Jonathan Byrd in the lead at the Tournament of Champions.

In the notorious Kona wind — the toughest at Kapalua — Garrigus chunked a four iron into a hazard to open with double bogey and followed with a bogey to quickly fall out of the lead. By the end of the third round, he was back where he started.

The eagle gave Garrigus a four-under 69 and gave him a good chance to become the first player since Tiger Woods in 2000 to win the season opener after winning the final event of the previous year.

Stricker turned an impossible lie into an unlikely birdie on the 12th hole, avoiding a loose piece of grass behind his ball in the bunker by hitting a four iron to five feet. It was part of five straight birdies that carried him to an eight-under 65, a score he didn't think was possible in wind that makes the Plantation Course play at its longest.

Byrd, who has been around the lead all week, was steady as usual. He nearly holed a wedge on the 16th and settled for a tap-in birdie, but his pitch to the 18th was just long enough that it trickled down a slope and rolled 50 feet away. His two-putt par gave him a 67.

All three were at 18-under 201, three shots clear of Carl Pettersson, who had a 71.

Three Americans atop the leaderboard at least improved the odds of ending a dubious streak at Kapalua, where international players have won the last eight Tournaments of Champions.

Matt Kuchar had the lead at one point by making seven birdies in a nine-hole stretch, but he played even par over the final six holes for a 66 and wound up four shots out of the lead. Graeme McDowell shot a 68 and was six shots behind, along with Bill Haas (69).

Associated Press

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