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Duo Leads in Dallas

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When Justin Leonard and David Toms posted 61 and 62, respectively, early on Saturday it appeared that someone near the top of the leaderboard would pull away from the rest.

It never happened.
 
Overnight co-leader Scott Verplank carded a 2-under-par 68 on the TPC Las Colinas. Not spectacular, but good enough to earn a share of the lead for the third straight day at the Verizon Byron Nelson Classic.
 
Verplank shares the top spot with Robert Damron, who bounced back admirably from early mistakes, to shoot a 3-under-par 67.
 
At 13-under, the duo is one-shot clear of Vijay Singh (67) and Leonard.
 
Fellow overnight co-leader David Duval struggled on Saturday, but birdied his final hole to stay within two shots of the lead at 11-under.
 
I really feel lucky to be there, said Duval. I played like a dog today.
 
Duval is tied for fifth place with Brian Watts (63), Mike Weir (65) and 1991 Nelson champion Nick Price (65).
 
Tiger Woods never got it going in the third round. He strolled down the 9th fairway while the final group played the adjacent 4th hole. As it turned out, thats as close as Woods would get to the leaders.
 
Despite a birdie at the 5th and an eagle at the par-5 7th, Tiger recorded three bogeys to just one birdie on the back nine for a round of 1-under-par 69.
 
Following his disappointing performance, the worlds No. 1 ranked player headed straight to the practice area.
 
Leonard, a Dallas native and resident, made the most noise early. He birdied three of his first five holes en route to a front-nine 32.
 
Then he blazed hotter than the Texas sun.
 
Leonard fired a back-nine 29, which included two birdies to start the inward half and four consecutive to close it.
 
In addition to placing himself in position to win his first tournament of the season, Leonard also got a chance to pay back his loyal fans.
 
Ive played a lot of bad rounds on this golf course, and at this tournament, and all those people have seen and been with me through all those poor rounds, Leonard said. So Im even with everybody, and that feels good.
 
So, too, does the fact that he matched the course record and set a new personal benchmark on the PGA Tour.
 
Any course record is wonderful, but to do it in my hometown with so many friends and family out, it makes it even better, he said.
 
Friday night, Leonard offered Verplank an invitation to join him at his house for dinner. Verplank respectfully declined. But after seeing what Leonard did on Saturday, he might accept next time.
 
I should have gone, Verplank joked. I wish Id have eaten what he did.
 
Verplank played steadily in Round Three, carding two birdies and no bogeys. Meanwhile, his playing companion was up and down all day.
 
Duval notched three birdies and four bogeys over his first ten holes. Another bogey at the 13th dropped him three shots off the lead.
 
But, ever the unemotional one, Duval birdied the 16th and 18th holes to keep himself in contention for his first title of the season.
 
Im really glad I managed to hang in, really excited about the birdie at 18, Duval said.
 
Through eight holes of the third round, Damron failed to heed the advice from a friendly reporter who jokingly told him to not suck.
 
Then things changed at the 9th.
 
I shoved a 3-wood off the tee going in. There was no way it wasnt going in the water, and it hit a tree and actually stopped about a yard short of going in the water; and I told my caddie, Fred, I said, Hey, this is it, Damron later said.
 
Damron parred the 9th and birdied the 10th and 11th to move back to 10-under for the tournament, where he started the day.
 
Damron did drop a shot at the 13th, but rebounded with four birdies over his final five holes to tie for the 54-hole lead.
 
You know, its been a few years since Ive been in this position, said Damron, whose best tour finish is a tie for third on three occasions.
 
Im playing well enough, so my job now is just to not put any undue pressure on me because of the situation. Just go out and have a good time and let my game do what its been doing.
 
Verplank is no stranger to final-round pressure. He won the Western Open as an amateur in 1985 and the Buick Open as a professional in 88. Twelve years later, Verplank recorded win No. 3 at the Reno-Tahoe Open.
 
Coincidentally, Verplank held at least a share of the lead after each round of his first two victories.
 
Im very pleased to be leading, or tied for the lead, said Verplank, who was a standard bearer for this tournament in his teens. Still, I'm kind of disappointed I wasnt able to distance myself (from the field).
 
News, Notes and Numbers
 
*Eleven players are within two shots of the lead, none of who have won in 2001.
 
*Scott Verplank has held at least a share of the lead entering the final round on seven occasions. Hes won two of them. Robert Damron has done so once at the 1997 FedEx St. Jude Classic, where he tied for third.
 
*David Toms wasnt expecting to make the cut at 1-under-par through 36 holes. Following his second round, he went shopping for his wife for Mothers Day. He then received a call from his caddie saying he qualified for the weekend. Last week, he shot 63-64 to win the Compaq Classic of New Orleans. Saturday, he followed suit, shooting 62. He stands at 9-under-par, four off the lead.
 
*Esteban Toledo shot a career-best 63 in the third round. Brian Watts also shot 63 to match his previous career-low round on tour.
 
Full-field scores from the Verizon Byron Nelson Classic