tampabay.com

Pair sits atop Honda Classic

By wire services
Published March 12, 2006


PALM BEACH GARDENS - Luke Donald's nearest rivals spent Saturday alternating birdies and bogeys with regularity, an approach that let each taste a lead most couldn't wind up sustaining.

Meanwhile, Donald kept escaping trouble and slowly crept into the top spot at the Honda Classic.

Donald's five-birdie, one-bogey round of 68 left him at 9-under 207 entering the final round and sharing the top spot with Billy Mayfair - who eagled the 17th hole to highlight his par 72 and reclaim a portion of the lead.

"I played solidly and didn't really have too many mistakes," said Donald, the English player whose only PGA Tour win was at the 2002 Southern Farm Bureau Classic. "A lot of good driving, a lot of good iron playing, holed a few putts."

Nationwide Tour graduate Jeff Gove (69) was one back, and Daniel Chopra and Match Play winner Geoff Ogilvy were 7 under after 71.

"Two shots is nothing on this course," Ogilvy said. "You can make up two shots in one hole."

You can also lose two shots in one hole; Ogilvy made his third double bogey of the week during his round. And David Toms made a slower, more pronounced slide - the first- and second-round leader bogeyed four of his final six holes, shot 76 and fell to 6-under 210 with Mathias Gronberg (72).

Mathew Goggin shot 65 and was at 5 under, along with Pat Perez (who had eagle and six birdies, the last a 50-foot chip on 18) and Frank Lickliter, whose 70 included seven birdies and five bogeys.

LPGA: Defending champion Annika Sorenstam maintained a share of the lead in the MasterCard Classic in Huixquilucan, Mexico, shooting 1-under 71 to match Paula Creamer and Mi Hyun Kim at 6-under 138. Creamer had 67 - the best round of the day - and Kim shot 69.

Sorenstam is making her first official LPGA Tour start since winning the ADT Championship in November and her first competitive appearance since teaming with Liselotte Neumann in January to win the Women's World Cup in South Africa. The Swedish star took advantage of the less-demanding opening holes, birdieing Nos. 3 and 4. But she bogeyed the par-4 10th after missing a 3-foot putt and two-putted from 7 feet for another bogey on the next hole. A solid 7-iron shot helped her sink a birdie putt on No. 16 to stay tied atop the leaderboard by one.

Seon Hwa Lee (69) was 5 under, and Cristie Kerr (69), Candie Kung (68) and Siew-Ai Lim (68) were 4 under.

CHAMPIONS TOUR: Tom Kite matched the Valencia Country Club tournament record with 8-under 64 to take a one-stroke lead in the AT&T Classic in Santa Clarita, Calif. After eagling the ninth hole, Kite had a tournament-record 29 on the back nine. He birdied Nos. 10-13 and closed with three straight birdies. Kite began the round by missing short birdie putts and bogeyed the fifth hole. Andy Bean was second after 65-135. He chipped in for eagle on the first hole, the second straight day he has eagled the 521-yard hole. First-round leader Mitch Adcock (70) was at 7-under 137, Tom Purtzer shot 70-139 and Loren Roberts (69), defending champion Des Smyth (71) and Ben Crenshaw (72) were 4 under.

EUROPEAN PGA: Mardan Mamat shot 2-under-par 70 to extend his lead heading into the final round of the Singapore Masters. The hometown favorite had three birdies and looked on course for a three-stroke lead until he bogeyed on the last two holes, reducing his lead to one shot. England's Nick Dougherty, the tournament's defending champion, was in second after 67. Dougherty, who ended the previous round tied for fifth, made six birdies on the front nine, including birdies on his first three holes. Tied for third at 9-under 207 were South Korea's Charlie Wi (65) and England's Ross Fisher, who finished a bogey-free 68 with four birdies.

FUTURES TOUR: Meaghan Francella of Port Chester, N.Y., led the $70,000 Lakeland Classic after 2-under 70. She held one-shot advantage (5-under 139) at the Cleveland Heights Golf Course over Jordan Cherebetiu (69), Sarah Martin (72) and Allison Fouch (72). Clearwater's Jenny Gleason shot 72 and was 2-over 146. Tampa's Elizabeth Stuart also shot 72 and was 5-over 149. Both made the cut of 149.