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Singh, Coles share lead going into final round



Published: Sat, April 23, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Windy conditions made the Houston Open course much tougher to play.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

HUMBLE, Texas -- Defending champion Vijay Singh fought off windy conditions and a slow start Saturday, shooting a 2-under 70 to join Australia's Gavin Coles at the top of the leaderboard after the third round of the Shell Houston Open.

Singh, a nine-time winner last year who was recently elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame, had three birdies on the back nine to match Coles at 11-under 205 on Redstone Golf Club's Jacobsen/Hardy Course.

Coles, who started the day tied for the lead with Brett Quigley at 10-under, had a 71 as wind gusting over 20 mph kept scores high.

Englishman Greg Owen faltered with bogeys on his last two holes to finish with a 70, leaving him a stroke back at 10 under. Quigley (73) and Jose Maria Olazabal (70) were 9 under, and John Daly (73) topped a three-man group at 8-under.

Singh started the day one shot off the pace and fell as much as five shots behind with bogeys at Nos. 4 and 6, both par-4 holes, then bounced back with birdies at 8 and 10. A birdie at the par-5 12th hole, where his approach landed 3 feet from the pin, pulled him within one of the lead.

Then at the par-5 15th, the 42-year old Fijian made a 6-foot birdie putt to pull even with Coles and Owen at 11 under. Singh, seeking his third victory in the tournament in four years, finished with three pars.

The 36-year-old Coles, who played last year on the Nationwide Tour and is making his second try at the PGA Tour, had some early stumbles but refused to buckle. He started with a birdie at No. 1 and got to 12 under with another birdie at the par-3 5th hole. Back-to-back bogeys at 7 and 8 sent him back to the pack before he two-putted from 75 feet for birdie at the turn. Then he had nine consecutive pars for his 71.

Owen, who began the day two shots off the pace, was cruising along flawlessly, getting to 12 under and the lead alone until finishing with back-to-back bogeys.

A 17, the 33-year-old Englishman landed in a bunker, then missed a 3-foot par putt. Then at 18, he found the sand again, and missed his putt for par by less than a foot.

Daly, another of the players trailing by one beginning Saturday, went into the water at No. 7 for a double bogey, and had another double at the 11th to send him well back into the field. But he rebounded with a birdie at No. 12, then consecutive birdies at 14 and 15 to get to 8-under.

Liberty Mutual Legends

SAVANNAH, Ga. -- Wayne Levi shot a 4-under 68 in strong wind to take a one-stroke lead over Tom Purtzer in the Liberty Mutual Legends.

Levi had a 9-under 135 total at The Club at Savannah Harbor. Purtzer, who led by a stroke after the first round, shot a 71. Ireland's Des Smyth (71) and Tom Jenkins (67) were two strokes back at 7 under.

The team of Tom Watson and Andy North won the Raphael Division title by four strokes over Bruce Lietzke and Bill Rogers. Watson and North had a 16-under 128 in the two-day, better-ball competition.

Johnnie Walker Classic

BEIJING -- Australia's Adam Scott took a six-stroke lead in the Johnnie Walker Classic, finishing off a second-round 6-under 66 and making five birdies in 11 holes in the suspended third round.

Scott, who broke the Pine Valley course record in the first round with a 63, was 19-under. American Gary Rusnak and Sweden's Henrik Stenson were tied for the second at 13-under. Rusnak completed 11 holes in the third round, and Stenson played 12.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.




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