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PGA Toms' eagles include ace as he joins leaders



Published: Sat, June 4, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Fred Couples, Jeff Sluman and Bart Bryant also are tied for first.

DUBLIN, Ohio (AP) -- David Toms put a week's worth of excitement into one round Saturday. He had a hole-in-one, made another eagle the conventional way with a 3-iron into 12 feet and saved par at the end with a 6-iron that smacked into a pine tree after he made contact.

It gave him an 8-under 64 and left him in a four-way tie for the lead at the Memorial.

And now he might have to do it again.

"I put myself in position today, and that's all I did," Toms said. "I'm not going to be able to make pars and hope it's good enough. There are too many guys who can do what I did today."

Some of them already did, or at least came close enough so that the leaderboard is littered with contenders.

Others in front

Fred Couples nearly had an ace, picked up an eagle on the 15th and closed with an 18-foot birdie putt for a 66 that enabled him to join Toms, Jeff Sluman (68) and Bart Bryant (66) at 12-under 204, the first time the Memorial has ever had a four-way tie at the top going into the final round.

The third round usually sorts out the leaderboard. All this did was rearrange the names.

"Saturday is moving day, and a lot of guys made big moves out there," Sluman said. "It'll probably be a little bit of a free-for-all."

Ten other players were within four shots of the lead -- including Tiger Woods, one of the few who got stuck in neutral -- to set up what figures to be a shootout today at Muirfield Village.

"You've got to shoot what everyone else is shooting," Couples said, who will play in the final group at the Memorial for the second straight year. "I have just as good a chance as eight or 10 guys."

Bryant recovered from a double bogey at No. 2 when he hit his approach into the creek, making five birdies on the back nine, including a 9-iron that stopped just inches behind the cup at the difficult 17th.

Sluman, who started the day with a one-shot lead, had a chance to finish it that way until a 40-foot birdie putt that he ran up over the fringe slid just below the cup.

It could have been even more crowded at the top, but Jonathan Kaye (68) and Woody Austin (65) each made bogey on the final hole to finish at 11-under 205.

Woods made three bogeys in his round of 71 and was at 8-under 208.

Couples is a surprising contender, despite having won the Memorial in 1998 and contending last year. He hasn't played since the Masters because of a troubled back, but began wearing a brace that fits like a body suit from about 8 inches above his knees extending to his lower back.

Couples made up ground on the back nine, starting with his wedge that spun back to 16 inches on the par-3 12th. His birdie putt on the final hole put him in good shape to win for the first time in two years.

"These days are few and far between," Couples said. "But I still feel I know how to play golf."




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