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Woods poised for 9th win this year

The Canadian Open brought forth a new lineup of challengers trying to stop Tiger Woods.

On a day when six players were tied for the lead at one point, Woods hit a spectator in the head but did little else wrong Saturday in a round of 8-under 64. He shares the lead with Grant Waite and has a chance for his ninth win this year, the most PGA Tour victories in a season since Sam Snead won 11 in 1950.

Woods said it won't be easy, not with 11 players within five strokes.

"It's pretty wide open because so many players are bunched up," said Woods, who was at 201.

But none of them have the ability to overpower Glen Abbey. None have as much experience posing with the trophy.

That was not lost on Waite, who played the final six holes 5 under to shoot 68 and earn a spot in the final pairing with Woods, the first time they have played together since the 1993 Byron Nelson Classic.

"He was 17 and I could beat him then," Waite said. "He wasn't as intimidating."

It will be the second straight week in Canada that Waite has played in the final pairing. He finished one stroke behind Rory Sabbatini last week in Vancouver, British Columbia. Waite called that a "building block."

Woods, still struggling with lingering effects of the flu, is getting better each day. Even more daunting to his relatively unknown challengers is his winning record _ 21-2 worldwide when he has at least a share of the 54-hole lead.

"A lot of these players haven't won a lot, but on a golf course like this you can get away with a lot," Woods said.

A victory would be the perfect end to an incredible summer during which Woods has won three straight majors. At stake today is a chance to become the only player besides Lee Trevino in 1971 to win the innocuous "Triple Crown" _ the U.S. Open, British Open and Canadian Open.

"An open is an open," Woods said.

One stroke behind was J.L. Lewis, whose only victory came in the John Deere Classic last year, and Stephen Ames, who reportedly made critical remarks of Woods in April. Ames was quoted in the Calgary Herald as calling Woods a "spoiled 24-year-old" who was disrespectful of his peers. Ames later said he was taken out of context, and said he apologized to Woods.

"I don't think we'll have boxing gloves on," Ames said.

Woods, who has won half of his 16 events on the PGA Tour this year, caught a break on the par-4 eighth when his drive sailed right, plunked a spectator on the head and bounced to the fairway. Woods apologized, gave him a ball and made sure all he had was a knot on his head.

"He wasn't all there, which is understandable," Woods said.