Originally created 07/06/97

Tiger and two share lead



LEMONT, Ill. -- Tiger Woods sank an 18-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole Saturday, putting him in a three-way tie for the lead after three rounds of the Western Open.

Justin Leonard and Loren Roberts joined Woods at 9-under-par. And with six other players within two strokes of the leaders, Sunday's final round at Cog Hill's Dubsdread course promises to be a memorable one.

"It's nice to be in contention, because it gives you not only a chance of winning but also to feel the pressure - the nerves, the butterflies going through your stomach, palms a little sweaty," said Woods, going for his fourth PGA Tour victory of the year and sixth since turning pro last August.

"These are things I haven't felt in a little while."

Woods hadn't played well going into the Western, failing to break par in 11 of 12 rounds. After taking a week off from the grind of being the PGA Tour's biggest draw, the 21-year-old Masters champion opened the $2 million, Motorola-sponsored tournament with a 5-under-par 67 but followed with a second-round 72. He shot a 68 Saturday.

Roberts, who will be paired with Woods for the final round, shot a 66. Leonard, who led the field by two strokes and Woods by four going into Saturday, shot a 72 after getting 64 the previous day.

"After yesterday, anything would have been considered kind of a struggle," Leonard said. "Today was not the prettiest round, but I hung in there ... and kept myself in the tournament."

Steve Lowery, Jim Furyk and Frank Nobilo were one stroke behind the leaders. Another shot back were Steve Pate, Davis Love III and Jay Delsing. Scott Hoch was three back at 6-under.

On the 18th hole, Woods' 9-iron approach hit the green about 10 feet from the pin but spun backward and kept rolling away. An angry Woods snatched his putter from caddy Fluff Cowan as he walked toward the green.

But Woods regained his composure and calmly sank the 18-footer for his sixth birdie of the day. The thousands of people in his gallery cheered, and he pumped his fist in celebration.

"After hitting two good shots in there, to have that length of putt ... was pretty disappointing," Woods said. "But it was simple putt - just gun it up the hill. I didn't know if it had enough energy to get there, so I was kind of walking after it, trying to push it along."

ROBBINS IN FRONT: Kelly Robbins is sticking with her aggressive approach to the Highland Meadows course in Sylvania, Ohio.

"This is not a course where I need to be conservative," said Robbins, who shot a 4-under-par 67 on Saturday to extend her lead to six strokes in the Jamie Farr Kroger Classic.

Robbins, who began the round with a two-stroke lead, had a tournament-record 15-under 198 total. She also opened with a 67 and tied the course record Friday with a 64.

"This is why I play," said Robbins, a four-time tour champion who won the 1994 tournament. "I don't think I've ever had this big a lead. A lot of people say Saturday is moving day. I was a little surprised."

Australia's Karrie Webb, a four-time winner last year when she earned a tour-record $1,002,000, was second after a 71. Hall of Famer Nancy Lopez (71) and Vickie Odegard (67) were seven back at 205.

"I'm starting to get my swing together, but my putting was pretty bad," said Webb, who won the Susan G. Komen International in April. "I'll have to shoot a 63, 64 to win, especially if it is like today."

Robbins birdied three of the final five holes, holing a 20-foot birdie putt on the par-3 14th hole, a 30-footer on the par-4 16th, and a 12-footer on the par-5 18th. She also birdied No. 2, sinking a 15-footer.

"I was fortunate to get some putts in there," said Robbins, who returned to her Michigan home last week to work on her swing with father-instructor Steve Robbins. "I grew up a couple of hours north of here with courses like this. I'm comfortable here."

Robbins, who has seven top-six finishes this year and is third on the money list with $422,581, has 17 birdies through 54 holes, and has not bogeyed a hole since the first round.

BIRDIES PACE SIGEL: Jay Sigel birdied the first four holes Saturday to take the lead in the $1 million Kroger Senior Classic at Mason, Ohio, and then pulled away from the field with three consecutive birdies on the back nine.

Sigel finished with an 8-under-par 63, the best round of the tournament, for a 36-hole total of 129, a Kroger record. First-day co-leader David Ojala shot 68 and trailed Sigel by four strokes going into Sunday's final round.

Larry Gilbert, Leonard Thompson, Jimmy Powell and Frank Conner were at 8-under, five strokes behind.

The last time Sigel led after two rounds, he won the Bruno's Memorial Classic in May.

First-day co-leader Bob Eastwood blew to 73 on Saturday.

Graham Marsh, who won the U.S. Senior Open a week ago and the Nationwide Championship the week before that, fell farther back in his bid to become the first player to win three consecutive events on the senior tour since Lee Trevino in 1992. Marsh shot 70 Saturday and trailed Sigel by 10 strokes.

Playing in nearly ideal conditions, with no wind and unseasonably cool temperatures in the mid-70s, 55 players in the field of 76 were at par or better after two rounds on the 6,673-yard Grizzly Course at The Golf Center at Kings Island, north of Cincinnati.