Stricker maintains lead at Kapalua

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KAPALUA, Hawaii — Steve Stricker finished the third round at Kapalua the same way he started – with a five-shot lead.

Steve Stricker chips the ball up to the ninth green. He shot 4-under-par 69 to take a five-shot lead into the final round at Kapalua.  ERIC RISBERG/ASSOCIATED PRESS
ERIC RISBERG/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Steve Stricker chips the ball up to the ninth green. He shot 4-under-par 69 to take a five-shot lead into the final round at Kapalua.

Only it wasn’t that easy.

Stricker watched his lead dwindle to a single shot on the back nine Sunday before running off four consecutive birdies for 4-under-par 69 that gave him a big lead going into today’s final round at the Tournament of Champions.

He was at 19-under 200, five shots clear of defending champion Jonathan Byrd (67), Martin Laird (67) and Webb Simpson, who also had 69 while playing in the final group with Stricker.

Simpson and Byrd each had a putt on the back nine to tie for the lead.

Through three rounds, Stricker now is 13-under par on the five closing holes at the Plantation Course.

EUROPEAN TOUR: In East London, South Africa, Louis Oosthuizen holed a 35-foot birdie putt on No. 17 to top Tjaart van der Walt and retain his title at the Africa Open.

The former British Open champion beat Van der Walt by two after closing with
6-under-par 67 for 27-under total of 265 at the season-opening European Tour event.

Van der Walt posted 69 to finish one shot ahead of Retief Goosen, who also carded 69 at East London Golf Club.

Oosthuizen and Van der Walt were tied with two holes to play but Oosthuizen’s birdie and Van der Walt’s bogey at the short par-3 No. 17 finally separated the pair.

“It was a real dogfight for most of the day,” Oosthuizen said. “What happened on 17, it was going to be one of us who faltered. If I two-putted, he would probably have made that short putt.

“One of us needed to make some big putt to put a lot of pressure on the other guy and it was just fortunate for me that it went my way.”

It was the 29-year-old Oosthuizen’s fourth European Tour title and first since his win in East London in 2011.

Former Augusta State stars Jamie Elson and Oliver Wilson had different endings to their weekend.

Elson tied for 54th at 282 (70-71-71-70) while Wilson finished tied for 79th at 293 (70-69-78-76).


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