Singh Remains in Mercedes Drivers Seat

By Sports NetworkJanuary 8, 2005, 5:00 pm
04 Mercedes ChampionshipsKAPALUA, Hawaii -- Vijay Singh posted a 4-under 69 on Saturday to hold on to a one-stroke lead through three rounds of the Mercedes Championships. Singh completed 54 holes at 19-under-par 200.
This event is reserved for the 32 winners from 2004 on the PGA Tour. Masters winner Phil Mickelson is the only player eligible for the event who is not here.
Jonathan Kaye, winner of the 2004 FBR Open, carded six birdies on the back nine en route to a 7-under 66. He climbed into second place at 18-under-par 201. Ernie Els, the 2003 champion of this event, posted a 68 to take third place at minus-17.
U.S. Ryder Cupper Stewart Cink moved to 16-under-par 203 with a third-round 67. Stuart Appleby, the defending champion, shot a 66 to join former Masters champion Mike Weir (71) in a tie for fifth place at minus-15.
Tiger Woods, the 1997 and 2000 champion of this event, continued to struggle with his putting, but managed a 4-under 69 in the third round. He is alone in seventh place at 14-under-par 205.
Woods missed several makeable birdie putts on the front nine as he opened with eight straight pars. He got up and down for a birdie at the ninth to move to 11 under at the Plantation Course at Kapalua Resort.
The second-ranked player in the world birdied three of four holes from 11th to climb to minus-14. Woods bogeyed 15 and 17, but managed a birdie at 16. He got up and down for another birdie at the last for a 69.
'Blind luck there. Eventually the odds are I'm going to make one putt,' said Woods of his putting on the 10th. 'I still didn't putt really well today. Starting out I had some chances early, but I didn't sniff the holes with those putts. After I knocked one stiff on nine, I got it going from there.'
Singh, meanwhile, has played the first 54 holes without a bogey. He parred his first four holes before reaching the par-5 fifth in two shots. The world's top-ranked player three-putted for par though to remain at minus-15.
At that point Singh trailed Els, who birdied four of the first five holes, by one stroke. Singh tied the South African at minus-16 when he kicked in a 2-foot birdie putt at the sixth.
Singh regained the outright lead when he got up and down for birdie at the par-5 ninth. The 2000 Masters champion parred his next five holes.
The Fijian ran home a 14-foot eagle try at the par-5 15th to jump to 19 under and a three-shot cushion. Singh left his birdie putt just short at the next and again two-putted for par at 17.
Singh could only manage a par at the par-5 closing hole, but it was good enough to maintain his lead.
'It was a disappointing 4 under, I'll say, but I'll still take it,' said Singh, who has never won this event despite five top-10 finishes. 'There was not a lot of birdies out there. The putts would not go in today, but I'll take it. I'm still in the lead. I just need to make some more putts.'
Kaye parred his first eight holes before pitching his third shot within 2 feet of the cup at the ninth. He tapped that in to get to 12 under. The 34-year-old drained a 8-foot birdie putt at 11.
Kaye came right back with a 6-foot birdie putt at 12. He continued to roll with a 12-foot birdie putt at 13 and a 5-foot birdie putt on the 14th.
The two-time winner on the PGA Tour sank a 3-foot birdie try at 16 and two-putted for birdie at the last to get within one of Singh, who he played with in Round 1.
'It's been a fun week,' Kaye said. 'I got to play with No. 1, 2, 3 in the world in consecutive order. You know, it's just been an enjoyable time, as I got to watch their games. I had long putts on the front nine, where you are just trying to get it close and not do anything stupid. On the back nine, I kept it below the hole and was able to be aggressive.'
Els birdied four of the first five holes, all from within 30 feet, to move one shot ahead of Singh. However, Els stumbled to bogies at the ninth and 13th to slip back to 14 under. He bounced back with three birdies down the stretch to get back within two of the leader.
Vaughn Taylor posted a 5-under 68 to move into eighth place at 13-under-par 206. Reigning U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen, Chad Campbell and Craig Parry are one stroke further back at minus-12.
Sergio Garcia, who defeated David Toms in a playoff here in 2002, is tied at 11-under-par 208 with Toms.
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