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Sauers' 66 sends him to top

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published September 1, 2002


SURREY, British Columbia -- Gene Sauers didn't find out he would play in the Air Canada Championship until Monday afternoon.

SURREY, British Columbia -- Gene Sauers didn't find out he would play in the Air Canada Championship until Monday afternoon.

Today, he tees off with the lead.

The 40-year-old shot 5-under 66 on Saturday for a one-stroke lead after the third round. Sauers, who won the last of his two PGA Tour titles in 1989 and hasn't had full tour privileges since 1996, was at 13-under 200.

"I haven't played many regular tour events this year or in the past," said Sauers, who was seventh on the alternate list. "I lost my card and kind of got tired of the game to be honest with you. I have been playing well for a year and a half, but I haven't had the opportunity to get out here."

Peter Lonard and Robert Allenby were a stroke behind Sauers after each shot 68.

Allenby, who came within a shot of a course record with 62 Friday, dropped a stroke on the front nine before closing the gap with four birdies on the back.

"It wasn't the best of starts," said Allenby, who tied for second in the previous PGA Tour event, the NEC Invitational. "On the back nine I just tried to swing within myself and just tried to ease every shot. ... It was a good way to finish."

Steve Lowery (68) was two strokes back at 11 under, and third-round leader Craig Barlow (71) and Kevin Sutherland (69) were 10 under.

Sauers didn't arrive in Vancouver until Tuesday afternoon, but a luggage mix-up meant he didn't get his clubs until Wednesday.

By then there was no time for a practice round, so he arrived for the first round relying on memories from his last appearance at the tournament in 1997.

STATE FARM CLASSIC: Mi Hyun Kim holed a 106-yard shot for eagle on the 17th hole for a share of the third-round lead with Patricia Meunier-Lebouc in the LPGA Tour event in Springfield, Ill.

Kim, the 1999 tournament winner seeking her third victory this year, shot 4-under 68 to match Meunier-Lebouc (72) at 13-under 203 on the Rail Golf Course. Kim holed a "little smooth 8-iron" for the eagle on the 355-yard 17th.

Emilee Klein (67) and Tampa's Nancy Scranton (68), fighting for Solheim Cup spots in the final event in the points race for automatic berths on the U.S. team, were a stroke back with Laura Diaz (67) and Shani Waugh (67).

Kim, who won the 1999 State Farm title as a tour rookie, had five birdies on the back nine after playing the first nine holes in 2-over 38. Meunier-Lebouc, who began the round with a three-stroke lead, had three birdies but also made a trio of three-putt bogeys.

"When you get three times three putts, it was a little tough on my head," the former Ladies European Tour star from France said.

The tournament ends the points race for the 10 automatic U.S. Solheim Cup spots for the Sept. 20-22 matches against Europe at Interlachen in Edina, Minn.

With fifth-place Dottie Pepper sidelined by a shoulder injury, the top 11 will qualify, and captain Patty Sheehan will add two players. Juli Inkster, Diaz, Rosie Jones, Michele Redman, Kerr, Meg Mallon and Beth Daniel have clinched spots.

Wendy Ward, tied for 22nd at 7 under, entered the week ninth with 81.50 points, followed by Kelli Kuehne (78.25), Kelly Robbins (72.92), Dorothy Delasin (72.45), Klein (69.28), Hurst (63.00) and Scranton (58.47). Kuehne and Robbins skipped this tournament.

ALLIANZ CHAMPIONSHIP: John Bland had a hole-in-one in a tournament-record 8-under 63 to take the second-round lead of the Senior PGA Tour event in West Des Moines, Iowa. Bland used 5-iron to ace the 175-yard 16th and made a 30-foot birdie putt on the 18th for 11-under 131 and a two-stroke lead over Bob Gilder (66). The 57-year-old Bland, who won the last of his five senior titles in 1996, broke the tournament record of 65. Hale Irwin (68), who began the round tied for the lead with Graham Marsh (74), was three back with Jose Marie Canizares (66).

BMW INTERNATIONAL OPEN: Thomas Bjorn shot 4-under 66 for a two-stroke lead in the European PGA Tour event in Nord-Eichenried, Germany. Bjorn, the European Ryder Cup player who missed the cut in his past three starts, was at 18-under 198 total. Germany's Bernhard Langer (67) and England's Richard Bland (69) were tied for second. Second-round leader Ian Poulter shot 70 to fall three back.

BLOOMINGDALE CLASSIC: A delayed start and the threat of more bad weather forced NGA Hooters Tour officials to cancel the minitour event at the Bloomingdale Golfers Club in Valrico.

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