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Lehman hits heights, but Faldo still in sight

Tom Lehman needed to look back only as far as the Masters to know that his six-stroke lead over Nick Faldo after three rounds at the British Open was anything but safe.

The American dominated Royal Lytham & St. Annes Golf Club with a course-record 64 Saturday for a 54-hole British Open record 198. Now he will find out whether he can dominate Faldo.

"To play head-to-head with Nick Faldo will be something to tell my grandchildren about," Lehman said. "He is one of the best, if not the best player in the world."

No one in the world is a more relentless match-play player than England's Faldo. No one can put more pressure on an opponent. Faldo proved that in April at Augusta, when he went head-to-head with Greg Norman on Sunday trailing by six strokes and won by five.

"Obviously it's a similar scenario. But it's a different period of time, a different golf course," Faldo said.

"The objective is still the same: to shoot a great score and see what happens. I've got to aim for 63 tomorrow."

There was a familiarity to the American's position: leading a major championship going to the final round, in Sunday's last group in a major for the fourth time in three years. He had both going for him at the U.S. Open last month but finished second to Steve Jones. Lehman never has won a major.

And here was Faldo once again making a birdie on the 17th hole _ just as he did at Augusta _ to force a final-round pairing with the man he has to catch. A Masters-like comeback would mean his seventh major and fourth British Open title.

"Being in the last group again may help," Faldo said after his 68 put him at 9-under-par 204. "If anything is going to happen, it is the best place to be."

Mark Brooks and Vijay Singh were at 205, with Ernie Els and Fred Couples at 206.

Jack Nicklaus, who started one stroke behind midway leaders Lehman and Paul McGinley, shot 77 _ the 11th time since the 1986 Masters that he has shot 76 or higher in the third round of a major championship. McGinley fell back with 74.

Nearly everyone fell back on another sunny, relatively calm dayat Lytham, mostly because Lehman was putting up numbers that were impossible to match.

With an eight-birdie, one-bogey round in which he converted a half-dozen putts of 12 feet or longer, he broke the Lytham course record of 65 and was a single stroke off the lowest score in any major championship.

"It was definitely one of the best rounds I've ever shot, if not the best," Lehman said. "I don't think I could have putted any better."

Faldo missed four makeable birdie putts in the first five holes and three-putted No. 4 from 18 feet for bogey. He played Nos. 6 through 11 at 5 under, making an eagle on the par-5 sixth when he hit a driver and a 9-iron to 25 feet. He gave two strokes back on the tougher closing holes, making bogeys on 14 and 16, driving into the rough and hitting greenside bunkers on both.

The key birdie on No. 17 came when he hit a 7-iron to 2 feet.

"I wasn't trying to hit it there," Faldo said. "That was my break of the week."

Asked whether Faldo's comeback at the Masters crossed his mind, Lehman said: "You mean like lightning striking twice? Yeah."

Then, with resolve in his voice and determination in his eyes, he added: "This is a different place, a different time. It's my tournament to win or my tournament to lose. I'm going to try to not pay attention to him tomorrow."

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