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Woods takes lead on 2 late birdies

Published Sep. 27, 2005

Tiger Woods was two strokes ahead at the Deutsche Bank-SAP Open with 18 holes to play, and that was bad news for the rest of the field.

Woods moved in front of one of Europe's toughest fields of the year with birdies on the par-5 15th and 17th holes Saturday, converting easy putts after chipping in from the edge of the greens.

He finished with 5-under-par 67 and a three-round total of 9-under 207 heading into the final round of the $2.3-million European PGA event.

Woods has won the past 13 tournaments he has led after three rounds.

"To be honest, I don't have an explanation," he said of his streak. "I just know I would rather be in the lead than coming from behind."

The event, in which Woods is defending his title, has the entire Ryder Cup team playing in the same tournament for the first time since playing the Americans last year. Three of them were at 7-under 209, including Europe's money-leader, Darren Clarke of Northern Ireland, England's Lee Westwood and Spain's Miguel Angel Jimenez.

Two others were also at 209, Italy's Emanuele Canonica, just 5 feet 2 but the longest hitter on the European tour, and Australian Geoff Ogilvy.

Jimenez, the second-day leader, dropped back with two early bogeys and that paved the way for a scramble at the top of the leaderboard.

If Woods wins, it would be his fifth title in eight European events and 25th in 85 tournaments as a pro.

Woods still was playing with a Nike ball, instead of his usual Titleist, saying he had first tried it a few days before the Byron Nelson Classic in Dallas last week.

THE COLONIAL: Playing extra holes seemed to help Stewart Cink, who took over the PGA lead in Fort Worth, Texas, with two impressive strings of birdies.

Cink was 10 under for the 31 holes he played, moving to 11 under and three strokes ahead of Davis Love III, who had five birdies and four bogeys in his third round of 1-under 69.

Forced to play the final 13 holes of his rain-delayed second round in the morning, Cink made five straight birdies for 64 to move within a stroke of co-leaders Love and David Toms.

After three birdies his first six holes, Fred Couples was at 7 under and shared the lead. Then his tee shot on the seventh hole disappeared into the trees, bouncing back into the fairway after hitting a woman on the head.

It appeared to be a lucky break, but Couples was obviously shaken after going to the gallery and speaking briefly to the woman, bleeding from a gash on her head as she laid on the ground. Couples then hit his approach shot into the bunker and ended with bogey.

The woman needed stitches but never lost consciousness. Couples finished his round with 11 pars and 68. He was five back.