Paulson holds lead at The Players Championship

Posted: Sunday, March 24, 2002

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- On a day of scintillating shots and shocking collapses, Carl Paulson played a steady hand Saturday in The Players Championship and positioned himself for the biggest surprise of all.

Untested and relatively unknown, the 31-year-old Paulson posted a 3-under 69 for the third straight day to build a one-stroke lead over Craig Perks (69) going into the final round of one of toughest and most exciting tests in golf.

Paulson was at 9-under 207 and will try to become the first player in the 28-year history of The Players Championship to earn his first victory at an event widely regarded as the fifth major.

Thirteen players were within six shots of the lead, including defending champion Tiger Woods (70-213), PGA champion David Toms (70-211), Mike Weir (68-211), Sergio Garcia (71-213) and resurgent six-time major winner Nick Faldo (72-213).

Phil Mickelson took five putts from 18 feet on the 10th hole to drop out of contention, and added a three-putt from 15 feet on the 17th. He shot a 75 for a 214 total, seven strokes behind Paulson.

Madeira Island Open

MADEIRA, Portugal -- Ivo Giner of Spain and Maarten Lefeber of the Netherlands shared the lead at 8 under when rain forced the suspension of play in the third round of the Madeira Island Open.

Giner and Lefeber had two holes remaining in their rounds when thick mist and rain forced a stop in The seven leading groups will return to the course early Sunday.

Welch's-Circle K Classic

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Juli Inkster, stung by a bogey early on the back nine, recovered with an eagle two holes later and shot a 2-under-par 70 to retain the lead going into the final round of the Welch's-Circle K Classic.

Strong wind gusts made for tricky approach shots and putts, and Inkster's relatively bad score a day after shooting a 64 only cost her one stroke of what had been a three-shot lead. She tied Annika Sorenstam's 54-hole tournament record of 16-under 200.

Laura Diaz shot a 68 and Dorothy Delasin had a 69 to remain two shots behind the 41-year-old Inkster, the 1999 Tucson winner.

Sorenstam, the winner the last two years, made a strong charge to get into position for a run at her third title. The former University of Arizona star birdied six of the first 12 holes and finished with a 67, tied with Mi Hyun Kim (66) and Nancy Scranton (72) at 205.

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