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Singh seizes the lead at Innisbrook with round of 67

Posted: Sunday, October 31, 2004

PALM HARBOR, Fla. The final full-field event of the PGA Tour is supposed to be all about money. Maybe it's only fitting that the guy with the most of it Vijay Singh is in control at the Chrysler Championship.

Singh had to recover from back-to-back bogeys early in the third round. He grabbed a share of the lead with a perfectly played flop shop from deep rough over a steep bunker. He took the lead for himself with a 30-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole.

Still, the toughest task was reminding everyone that there's still 18 holes to play.

''I'm just leading. It's only one shot,'' Singh said after a 4-under 67 to take a one-shot lead over Tommy Armour III. ''A tough golf course like this, you just keep pace and keep your patience and see if you can get a chance on Sunday. Fortunately, I've done better than that.''

Singh was at 12-under 201 and will be trying to win for the ninth time this year. The 41-year-old Fijian has won five of his last seven starts on the PGA Tour, and he has won the last 10 times with at least a share of the 54-hole lead, dating to the MCI Classic three years ago.

''That's why we play the tour, to play with the best players and see what you got,'' Armour said after a 68.

No matter what happens Sunday, there still figures to be plenty of drama.

The only money that matters to Singh is getting to $10 million, and that looks like a lock barring a collapse.

For everyone else, it will be the last chance to finish in the top 30 on the money list and qualify for the Tour Championship; in the top 40 and qualify for the Masters; or in the top 125 to secure PGA Tour cards for next year.

Jesper Parnevik and Kirk Triplett each had 68 and were two shots behind at 203.

The real move came from Tom Carter (No. 164 on the money list) and Jose Maria Olazabal (No. 148), who were at 205. Carter had a 65, and needs at least third to keep his card. Olazabal, the two-time Masters champion, shot 67 and should keep his card if no one passes him.

Tim Herron had a 67 and could make it to East Lake next week with another solid round Sunday.

As for the trophy?

It looked like that would be up for grabs, with five players in a share of the lead at some point. Then, Singh made his birdie putt on the 17th, and suddenly it seemed like this tournament was headed for a familiar conclusion.

''You've got the best player in the world leading,'' Jeff Sluman said. ''Realistically, you'd like his chances against guys giving him two, three, four shots.''

Armour was lucky to be only one shot back. His approach to the 18th hit the bleachers, bounced off a tree and dropped into the rough near the green. He got up-and-down for par, putting him in the final group with Singh.

Sluman and Jonathan Byrd, the co-leaders through 36 holes, both got off to solid starts until they crumbled on the back nine. Sluman's slide started earlier, a triple bogey on the sixth hole, and he never quite recovered on his way to a 74 that left him five shots behind.

Byrd, who was 9 under on the back nine in the first two rounds, played his final four holes in 4 over for a 75. One of those was a double bogey on No. 15, when he called a two-shot penalty on himself for grounding his club in the bunker.

Singh started the third round only two shots out of the lead, then three-putted from 20 feet and had to save bogey from just off the green on the next hole.

''My first goal was to get back to par, and I did that immediately,'' Singh said.

He made birdie on the next two holes, then slowly worked his way up the leaderboard a 12-foot birdie on No. 7, a two-putt birdie on the 11th and a phenomenal flop shot from deep rough, over a steep bunker to about 4 feet for a birdie on the par-5 14th.

CJ Nine Bridges Classic

JEJU, South Korea Kate Golden shot an 8-under 64 and moved into a tie for the lead with South Korean star Grace Park after two rounds of the CJ Nine Bridges Classic.

Annika Sorenstam moved back into contention for her seventh LPGA Tour title of the year after a 67, three behind the leaders.

Golden capped her bogey-free round with an eagle on the par-5 18th to finish at 9-under 135.

Park birdied the 18th to complete a 3-under 69 and retain a share of the lead at The Club at Nine Bridges course.

Volvo Masters

SOTOGRANDE, Spain Alastair Forsyth shot a 4-under 67 to open a three-stroke lead over Ian Poulter and Sergio Garcia after three rounds at the Volvo Masters.

Play was completed in fading light at Valderrama because of an 86-minute afternoon delay caused by a passing thunderstorm.

Forsyth was at 9-under 204. Poulter, who birdied No. 16 with a chip-in and No. 17 to catch Garcia, carded a 69. Garcia had a 71.

Christian Cevaer (70) was five back, one shot ahead of Peter Hanson (70).



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