Tiger Tumbles Oberholser Now Leads

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The view from the top looks much better to Arron Oberholser.
 
With a 20-foot eagle to jump-start his back nine, Oberholser surged past a pack of contenders and left struggling Tiger Woods far behind by posting a 4-under 68, giving him a one-shot lead in the Wachovia Championship and another chance to win his first PGA Tour event.
 
Despite a three-putt bogey on the 18th hole, Oberholser survived a crazy afternoon at Quail Hollow and finished at 11-under 205, the second time this year he has gone into the final round with a chance to win.
 
The other occasion was at Pebble Beach, only the circumstances were much different. He was tied with Vijay Singh, the hottest player in golf, and struggled to a 76.
 
This time, the 29-year-old Oberholser has the lead to himself and will play in the final group with Geoff Ogilvy of Australia, who matched the best round of the steamy afternoon with a 6-under 66 and was at 206.
 
Notah Begay, coming off two years of injuries and four missed cuts, reversed his fortunes with four birdies and two great pars over the final six holes for a 69 and also was only one shot behind.
 
'One thing I learned playing with Vijay is you can hit bad shots and still be under par,' Oberholser said. 'I'm just going to play the golf course. If someone comes out of the pack and grabs me, so be it. Once you start playing the man, you're a dead man.'
 
In this case, it would be men.
 
There were 20 players within six shots of the lead, and Saturday showed anything can happen if players are not on top of their game at Quail Hollow. No one suffered quite like Woods, who hit two balls in the water, five tee shots into the trees and was lucky to escape with a 75, leaving him five shots back.
 
'I fought my rear-end off just to make pars,' Woods said.
 
Oberholser still might have to deal with Singh.
 
The leaderboard was so scattered that Singh was eight shots behind with two holes to play. He birdied them both to salvage a 71, and wound up four shots behind as he tries to become the first player in nearly five years to win three straight weeks.
 
'If the leaders don't do any more, I think I've got a chance tomorrow because I'm playing really good,' Singh said.
 
Oberholser poured it on about the time he was ready to pass out.
 
With temperatures pushing 90 degrees, the Bay Area native started feeling dizzy. He proceeded to carve a 3-wood around a tree and into 20 feet for eagle on No. 10, hit a wedge into 3 feet for birdie on No. 14 and then pitch over the bunker to 6 feet for a birdie on the next hole.
 
Ogilvy also is trying to win for the first time, and he gave himself a chance with a bogey-free 66.
 
'The position is perfect,' he said. 'Around this course, you can make up a lot ground very quick, and you can drop back pretty quick. It's a pretty tough course.'
 
No need telling that to Woods.
 
Starting the third round with a two-shot lead, it was gone by the time he got to the fourth tee. By the end of the day, Woods was so clueless as to where his ball was going that he resorted to hitting safe slices off the tee just to keep the ball somewhere in North Carolina.
 
His best two shots were the last two of a bad day, leading to a 4-foot birdie for a 3-over 75 that left him five shots behind. Woods has only rallied from five shots down once in his PGA Tour career.
 
'I didn't have it at all,' Woods said, who headed straight for the range. Singh was already there, of course, and Woods headed to the farthest corner.
 
Begay also got into the hunt with a great back nine, especially with his putter. After three straight birdies, he two-putted for par from about 90 feet on the 16th, and saved par from the bunker on the 18th.
 
Jeff Maggert (67) was at 9-under 207, while the group at 208 included Carlos Franco (69) and Kirk Triplett (71). All three were in the lead at various times Saturday.
 
Phil Mickelson took four shots from 35 feet behind the green on the par-5 15th to take bogey, and he three-putted the 18th from 40 feet to finish with a 72. He was seven shots behind.
 
Still, the wild day was made possible by Woods.
 
The best closer in golf - 18 straight victories with at least a share of the 36-hole lead - hardly looked the part on a steamy afternoon with swirling breezes. Twice in the three holes, Woods tried to save par from off the green and failed both times, losing his two-shot lead within 30 minutes of teeing off.
 
By then, it was wide open at Quail Hollow, and Woods was all over the place.
 
He had to make a 30-footer for par on No. 9 after hitting into the trees twice down the left side. On No. 10, where most players reached in two, Woods had 190 yards in the rough for his third shot. He had to carve a shot out of the right trees on No. 11, the left trees on No. 12.
 
Starting on No. 9, Woods didn't hit a single fairway until the 18th hole - the only exception was No. 14, where he hit driver some 320 yards to the green for a two-putt birdie.
 
Oberholser played in the group ahead of Woods, and never had to worry about anything but fairways and greens.
 
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - Wachovia Championship
  • Full Coverage - Wachovia Championship
     
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