A World of Possibilities

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SAMMAMISH, Wash. -- The top three players in the world are within at least three strokes of the lead entering the final round of the World Golf Championships-NEC Invitational.
 
But leading the way through 54 holes at Sahalee Country Club are a pair of Australians, one of whom hasnt won a PGA Tour event in 235 career starts.
 
Craig Parry shot 5-under-par 66 to move to 10-under 203 in the $5 million event. The 36-year-old shares top billing with overnight leader Robert Allenby (71).
 
'I'm sure it's going to happen, it's just a matter of time,' said Parry, who has 18 wins outside the U.S. 'I'm just knocking on the door, again.'
 
Three-time defending champion Tiger Woods (67) heads a group two back. Hes tied with Ernie Els (67), Matt Gogel (68), Jim Furyk (68), who lost in a seven-hole playoff to Woods a year ago, and Steve Lowery (73).
 
World No. 2 Phil Mickelson is three off the pace following his usual erratic performance. The lefthander followed an eagle at the par-5 second with three straight bogeys. He also made two birdies and a double-bogey. In all, the good offset the bad, as he shot even-par 71.
 
Mickelson is at 7-under, along with Vijay Singh (69), who won the 1998 PGA Championship at Sahalee, and 22-year-old Englishman Justin Rose (72).
 
A pair of mistakes ' one mental, one physical ' cost Woods two shots over his final two holes. Woods, who birdied four of the first six holes on the back nine to tie for the lead, finished bogey-bogey to fall to 8-under.
 
Woods stood at 10-under ' and at the top of the leaderboard ' while contemplating his tee shot on the 230-yard, par-3 17th.
 
It was just a nice, smooth 5 (iron), and Stevie (Steve Williams, his caddie) talked me out of a 5 and into a 6. And what ticks me off is I had the final say so, and I didnt trust my own gut instincts ' just keep the loft open on it, hold it open, and just put it right in the middle of the green, he described.
 
Its just a stupid play, and it cost me a shot.
 
Woods pulled the shot into a bunker and missed the eight-footer for par.
 
And on 18, I compounded the problem by hitting a quick hook off the tee, he said.
 
After punching out into the fairway on his second shot to the par-5 finishing hole, Woods flew the green with a pulled wedge from 105 yards. He then flubbed his chip and made 6.
 
I felt like I was hitting the ball solid all day until the end, said Woods, who is trying to become the first player since Walter Hagen (1924-27 in the PGA Championship) to win the same event four consecutive years.
 
Tigers playing competitor, Ernie Els, also shot 67. The British Open champion will again be grouped with the worlds No. 1 Sunday, marking the fourth time in eight rounds that theyve gone head-to-head.
 
I like playing with Tiger. I see a lot of things that he does so well that I can feed off and learned from, said the third-ranked player in the world. Hes made so many great runs at leaders, and I hope Ill be sucked into his wake there some.
 
World No. 4 Retief Goosen could have added even more intrigue into the final round, but he shot 3-over 74 to fall four back.
 
The men everyone are chasing have two contrasting resumes. Parry has earned nearly $4.7 million on the PGA Tour, making him the career money-winner on tour without a victory.
 
Allenby, on the other hand, has won twice in each of the past two seasons. Saturday, he birdied the first two holes to move past fellow 36-hole co-leader Lowery. He promptly gave back the two strokes, however, with a double-bogey at the par-4 fourth and a bogey at the ninth.
 
A birdie at 13 was canceled by a bogey at 16. He was one down to Parry when he hit the green in two with a 3-wood at 18. His 25-foot eagle effort appeared dead-center, but detoured on the final couple of revolutions for a tap-in birdie.
 
'I'll be going out there with the frame of mind that I know I have to play aggressive. And I know I have to shoot at least 5-under - at least,' Allenby said.
 
'You've got, like, the top three or four players in the world right on your heels. So you know one of them is going to have a good day.'
 
Parry, a four-time runner-up on tour, had the low round of the day. He made five birdies without a bogey. He, like others tis week, said he found inspiration in Rich Beem's performance last week at Hazeltine.
 
'I watched Rich Beem last week at the PGA and I thought, he's actually getting up and trying to hit the shot he wants to hit and hitting it, and why can't I do that?
 
'It's worked so far.'
 
Full-field scores from the WGC-NEC Invitational