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Three tied for first at Tournament of Champions

Zach Johnson loses his lead with 74 in the third round, dropping two behind three players tied for first.

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Zach Johnson loses his lead with 74 in the third round, dropping two behind three players tied for first.

KAPALUA, Hawaii — Webb Simpson wanted to give his caddie some good news from the golf course Sunday. He delivered a 5-under 68 that gave him a three-way tie for the lead with defending champion Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth going into the final round of the Tournament of Champions.

On a glorious day of sun and surf, Simpson played with a heavy heart.

His caddie and friend, Paul Tesori, was in a hospital in Florida with newborn son Isaiah in intensive care. Simpson said the child suffered a seizure short after he was born with indications of an infection in his brain.

One of Tesori's best friends in the business is Ted Scott, the caddie for Bubba Watson, who is filling in this week as Simpson's caddie. Tesori tweeted that he tuned into the telecast at Kapalua in time to see his son's name on Scott's hat.

"Paul sent me a text (Sunday) morning, just told me he loved me and wanted to go out and fight as hard as I would any other day," Simpson said. "And that's what Teddy and I did.

"I felt like we were out there playing for Isaiah. Paul needs something to watch there in the hospital. It's been a long few days, so hopefully, we gave him something good to see on TV. But it was tough. I was thinking about him a lot out there."

Winning today won't be easy.

Simpson ran off four birdies in a five-hole stretch on the back nine then had two good pars to reach 14-under 205. Zach Johnson, who led by three after Saturday's round, stumbled to 74 and was two back.

Dustin Johnson won last year's title by three shots in a tournament reduced to three rounds and forced to a rare Tuesday finish because of relentless howling winds.

He began the third round three strokes off the pace and launched his timely surge up the leaderboard with his stunning eagle at the ninth.

"I hit a great drive down there right to the end of the fairway and had a good number, 211 (yards) with uphill," Johnson said. "I just hit a great four-iron right at the flag and it ended up being pretty close."

Three tied for first at Tournament of Champions 01/05/14 [Last modified: Sunday, January 5, 2014 11:17pm]
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