Hot Scott closes with three birdies for lead at The Players Championship

Posted: Sunday, March 28, 2004

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. Adam Scott used to sit in the back of a golf shop in Australia and watch countless video replays of his idol, Greg Norman, winning The Players Championship with a record score 10 years ago.

Little good that will do him now.

Scott is hardly headed for a runaway victory. Despite a solid 3-under 69 to build a two-shot lead, he doubts it will be there when he gets to the first tee Sunday.

Not with Ernie Els, Phil Mickelson, Vijay Singh, Kenny Perry even Tiger Woods trying to chase him down on one of the most frightening tracks in golf.

''I can't let my guard down for one minute,'' Scott said.

Scott made three straight birdies to take the lead Saturday at Sawgrass, then made no mistakes on the treacherous closing holes to take the lead into a final round that should be as entertaining as the golf course.

Scott was at 10-under 206, but 19 players were within six shots of the lead.

''I'm far from winning the event,'' Scott said. ''There's a full leaderboard of the best players behind me.''

Frank Lickliter, who lives on the TPC at Sawgrass, closed with three straight birdies for a 68.

He was joined at 8-under 208 by Kevin Sutherland, a co-leader going into the second round, who scratched out a 73 despite a bad ruling that led to a bogey on the par-5 16th.

Another shot back was a large group that included Els (72), Perry (69) and Mickelson (72), who made another solid recovery on the 18th to save par. Singh (72) was right behind, along with Craig Parry, whose 8-under 64 showed that anything goes at any time in this tournament.

Parry made the cut on the number. Playing early in slightly softer conditions, he had two eagles and six birdies in his round of 64 and now joins a long list of players chasing the $1.4 million prize in the PGA Tour's richest event.

Add the world's No. 1 player to the mix.

Woods wasted a great round and two valuable strokes when he hit a 7-iron into the bleachers on the 18th hole to cap off a bogey-bogey finish for a 68.

Still, he was six shots behind in a tie for 16th, a strong improvement from the bottom of the pack two days ago and very much in the mix on this thrill-a-minute Stadium Course at Sawgrass.

''A lot of things can happen on his golf course, as we have all seen,'' Woods said. ''You can shoot low rounds, and you can shoot high ones.''

Kraft Nabisco Championship

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. Grace Park shot a 5-under 67 for a share of the third-round lead with 17-year-old Aree Song in the Kraft Nabisco Championship.

Song's round of 69 wasn't quite as good as the one posted by Park, but it was remarkable enough for someone playing in just her fourth tournament as a pro.

Even more impressive was everyone's teen sensation, 14-year-old Michelle Wie, who doesn't figure to cash a check herself for another four years or so. Wie also shot a 69 and will begin play Sunday only two shots back in the second to last group.

Almost unnoticed on a day when youth was served was Annika Sorenstam, eight strokes back after a 69.

Park and Song had 8-under 208 totals on Mission Hills' Dinah Shore Tournament Course. Jung Yeon Lee (71) was a stroke behind the leaders at 7 under, and Karrie Webb (71) matched Wie at 6 under.

Madeira Island Open

SANTO DA SERRA, Madeira Islands Australia's Brad Kennedy had a three-stroke lead during the suspended third round of the European tour's Madeira Island Open.

Kennedy was 9 under for the tournament after six holes in the third round. He opened with a 62, and completed a second-round 72 on Saturday morning in the rain-plagued tournament.

Sweden's Steven Jeppesen, England's Jamie Spence and Denmark's Knud Storgaard were 6 under. Jeppesen played nine holes in the third round, and Spence and Storgaard each completed six.

Jeppesen had a hole-in-one on the eighth hole. He used a 9-iron on the 155-yard shot.

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