Perry, Singh move to the front in separate races at Bay Hill

Posted: Sunday, March 20, 2005

ORLANDO, Fla. — Kenny Perry is leading the Bay Hill Invitational, thanks to amazing accuracy off the tee that kept him out of the rough on all but two holes during a marathon Saturday.

Vijay Singh is winning the battle for No. 1, thanks to astonishing collapses by Tiger Woods and Ernie Els.

When the third round was suspended by darkness, Perry was at 9 under and leading by one shot over Stephen Ames, with Singh and K.J. Choi another shot behind. The final shot from Perry was another driver he blistered down the middle of the 12th fairway, an indication that he wanted to keep playing.

Not true.

''I wanted to stop,'' Perry said as he mixed nutrients into a bottle of water to help his 44-year-old body recover from 4 a.m. wakeup calls and 29 holes of golf on a difficult course. ''I was mentally and physically tired, and I was ready to go. It's going to be a long day (Sunday).''

It felt like eternity to Woods and Els, who took turn hitting tee shots out-of-bounds and bumbling their way around Bay Hill — Els in the morning, when he shot himself out of contention with a 77 in the second round; Woods in the afternoon, when he hit one drive onto the range and was nine shots out of the lead when play was halted.

Singh not only can move to No. 1, he can win the tournament where his PGA Tour career took root.

''They gave me an invite early in my career, and I think I owe them one,'' Singh said. ''There's a lot of golf to play. Hopefully, I can finish off strong tomorrow and see what happens.''

Perry took the 36-hole lead, his first on the PGA Tour in nearly two years, with a 4-under 68 in the second round that was played Saturday morning. He added two quick birdies to keep his name at the top.

''I'm frustrated that I didn't separate myself a little bit from the field,'' Perry said, a testament to how pure he struck the ball during his 29 holes Saturday.

Singh didn't play a single shot until he teed off late Saturday afternoon, then nearly made an ace on the second hole while firing off three straight birdies to get into contention.

The 42-year-old Fijian, who gave up his No. 1 ranking to Woods two weeks ago, is in prime condition to get it back. A victory would make it easy, but Singh also could return to the top by finishing in a two-way tie for third — provided Woods winds up out of the top 20.

Safeway International

SUPERSTITION MOUNTAIN, Ariz. — Lorena Ochoa gave up a commanding lead with a double bogey on the 16th hole, finishing with a 1-under 71 to take a one-stroke lead into the final round of the Safeway International.

Ochoa, the 23-year-old Mexican star who won twice last year as an LPGA Tour sophomore, had a 13-under 203 total. Playing partner Soo-Yun Kang was second after a 70, and defending champion Annika Sorenstam was four strokes back at 9 under.

Sorenstam, who has rallied in the final round for 18 of her 57 LPGA Tour titles, shot a 72 in the unusually humid, cool conditions, but only lost one shot to Ochoa.

Rookie Brittany Linicome shot a 66 to join Juli Inkster (69) at 8 under, and Rosie Jones had a 64 — the best round of the tournament — to finish at 7 under.

Michelle Wie shot a 73 to finish at 3 under. She also had a 73 on Thursday, but rebounded Friday with a 67.

Toshiba Senior Classic

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. — Champions Tour rookie Mark Johnson shot an 8-under 63 to take a three-stroke lead over former University of Houston coach Keith Fergus after the second round of the Toshiba Senior Classic.

Johnson, the qualifying tournament winner known as the ''Beer Man'' because he drove a Budweiser truck for 18 years before turning pro, had an eagle, seven birdies and a bogey to reach 12 under on the Newport Beach Country Club course.

Fergus shot a 66. Tom Jenkins and Wayne Levi were 8 under after 68s. First-round leader Gil Morgan (70) was 7 under along with Mike Reid (65) and Ben Crenshaw (67).

Mark McNulty (69) topped a group at 6 under, and defending champion Tom Purtzer (69) was another stroke back along with two-time winner Hale Irwin (69).

TCL Classic

SANYA, China — European Ryder Cup players Colin Montgomerie and Paul Casey shot 4-under 68s for a share of the third-round lead in the TCL Classic.

Montgomerie, trying to play his way into The Players Championship next week, and Casey were tied with Thailand's Chawalit Plaphol (66) at 16-under 200. Denmark's Thomas Bjorn and Australia's Terry Pilkadaris were a stroke back after 68s.

Montgomerie, 54th in the world ranking, needs a top-two finish to move into the top 50 and earn a spot in The Players Championship.

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