Rory Sabbatini gets his rubber match in the Rubber City.
Sabbatini, one of the few players bold enough to call out Tiger Woods, gave himself another shot at the world's No. 1 player by getting his double bogey out of the way early Saturday and closing with nine straight pars for 2-over 72 in the Bridgestone Invitational.
That gave the spunky South African a one-shot lead over Woods, and another chance to go head-to-head in the final group. Kenny Perry will fill out the threesome, perhaps as the referee if not a contender.
"I think it's going to be a stormy day altogether," Sabbatini said with a smirk, a reference to nasty weather in the forecast that pushed up the starting times today, and memories of his verbal sparring with Woods this spring.
Sabbatini was at 4-under 206, the highest 54-hole score to lead at Firestone since it became a World Golf Championship event in 1999.
Woods did his part. Despite a bogey from the trees on the 18th hole, the five-time champion at Firestone had 1-under 69 - the other five players in the final three groups were 21 over - leaving him a good chance to win the Bridgestone Invitational for the third straight year.
"Obviously, Rory is full of confidence," Woods said. "He believes in what he can do, and there's a lot to be said for that."
Sabbatini also had a one-shot lead over Woods at the Wachovia Championship in May, and said he wanted him in the final group. Woods shot 69 in the final round, while Sabbatini closed with 74.
The stunner came four days later when Sabbatini said Woods looked "beatable as ever." Woods returned the volley a day later by noting he already had won three times in 2007, as many victories as Sabbatini had in his career.
Sabbatini won a few weeks after that exchange at Colonial.
PGA: Steve Flesch overcame windy conditions with five birdies for his second straight 69 and a five-stroke lead after the third round of the Reno-Tahoe Open.
Flesch, who birdied the last two holes to finish at 15-under 201, also had two bogeys in winds that gusted up to 30 mph and swirled through the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada. He opened the $3-million tournament with 9-under 63 in search of his third career victory on the PGA Tour.
CHAMPIONS: A birdie lifted D.A. Weibring into the lead after two rounds of the 3M Championship in Blaine, Minn. Weibring shot 6-under 66 in a round which included four birdies on the last six holes. His two-round score of 131 tied a 36-hole tournament record. Jim Thorpe, a co-leader after the first round, fired 68 and was one shot back heading into today's final round.
FUTURES: Clearwater's Jenny Gleason remained tied for the lead at the USI Championship in Concord, N.H., after shooting a second-round 1-under 71 for 139 total. Kelly Lagedrost, of Brooksville and USF, shot 74 and was tied for 27th, seven back. Beth Bauer and Elizabeth Stuart, both of Tampa, missed the cut.