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Molinari keeping Westwood at bay

SHANGHAI — The No. 1 ranking belongs to Lee Westwood for at least another week, which is the least of his concerns.

No matter how well he played Saturday in the HSBC Champions, where he kept bogeys off his card and matched the low score of the third round at Sheshan International with 5-under 67, it wasn't enough to overtake Francesco Molinari.

Molinari holed a 7-iron from 160 yards for eagle. When it looked as if there might be a two-shot swing, he knocked in a 10-foot par putt on the 16th hole to stay in the lead. And after Westwood chipped to tap-in birdie range on the par-5 18th, Molinari ended his up-and-down day with a 10-foot birdie for 67 to stay one shot ahead of Westwood at 14-under 202.

"It was a really eventful round … because I hit some great shots and some not-so-great shots," Molinari said.

When Westwood was asked how it felt to stay No. 1 in the world — virtually a lock the way Tiger Woods, Martin Kaymer and Phil Mickelson fell apart at the final World Golf Championship event of the year — he made his intentions clear:

"I haven't thought about world rankings or anything like that. I'm here to try and win the HSBC Champions. The world rankings are just something that reflects the way you play."

Woods could have returned to No. 1 by finishing ahead of Westwood, but he shot 73, which put him 11 shots behind Molinari.

Barring the greatest comeback in PGA Tour history, Woods' streak of 14 straight years with at least one tour victory will end. The record is 17 years, held by Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus. Woods turns 35 next month, and realistically this isn't a streak he can start over.

"Not a very good day," he said. "I missed a lot of makable putts, didn't hit the ball very well and just never got anything going."

Mickelson, the defending champion, made one birdie against five bogeys in his round of 76, falling 14 shots back. Kaymer, the PGA champion who also had a chance to go to No. 1, shot 74 and is 13 shots behind.

LPGA: Jiyai Shin, No. 1 in the rankings, shot 6-under 66 to take a two-stroke lead over Stacy Lewis after the second round of the Mizuno Classic in Shima, Japan. She was at 13-under 131. Seminole's Brittany Lincicome shot 67 and was nine shots back of Shin.

Champions: Michael Allen shot a course-record 10-under 61 to take a one-stroke lead at 14-under 199 over defending champion John Cook (67) in the season-ending Schwab Cup Championship. Allen, 51, had 10 birdies in his bogey-free round at Harding Park in San Francisco for the lowest round of his career. He also matched the tour's best round of the year. Schwab Cup points leader Bernhard Langer (67) was in a group at 10 under. Fred Couples (70) was 5 under, all but ending his chances of catching Langer in the two-man Schwab Cup race for a $1 million annuity.

Molinari keeping Westwood at bay 11/06/10 [Last modified: Saturday, November 6, 2010 7:52pm]
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