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Axley's second straight 63 gives him 4-shot lead at Texas Open

By TIMES WIRES
Published September 24, 2006


SAN ANTONIO, Texas - Eric Axley turned pro nine years ago, but he doesn't have to think that far back to find the best golf of his career.

This is it.

Axley shot his second straight 7-under 63 on Saturday in the Texas Open, birdieing the final three holes to take a four-shot lead into the final round. Only Corey Pavin's 64-61 in Milwaukee are lower consecutive rounds on the PGA Tour this year.

Axley punctuated the round by driving the par-4 16th hole with a 352-yard drive from the tee. When he walked off the 18th green at the Resort Course at LaCantera Golf Club, he knew it was the best he has played.

"Obviously, yeah. I'm just not making mistakes," Axley said. "I'm just playing stress-free out there."

Axley, a 32-year-old left-hander with a half backswing preshot routine that's similar to the left-handed Mike Weir, was 16-under 194 through 54 holes.

Axley has gone 40 holes without a bogey. He started the tournament Thursday with bogeys on three of his first 14 holes.

He leads a group of three players including 2005 Byron Nelson Championship winner Ted Purdy, who shot 64 Saturday. The others at 12 under are Frank Lickliter (65) and 2004 Ryder Cup participant Chris Riley (64).

lpga: Karrie Webb took full control in the Longs Drugs Challenge in Danville, Calif., taming the hilly Blackhawk Country Club course with a bogey-free 6-under 66 that pushed her lead to five strokes with a round to play.

Webb birdied the final three holes on the Lakeside course to finish at 13-under 203 and send a message to her tour rivals that the seven-time major champion from Australia is back at the top of her game.

Webb began the round tied for the lead with Jeong Jang at 7 under. Jang shot 74 to drop eight strokes back at 5-under 211.

Annika Sorenstam's round fell apart at No. 5, a short par-5 that she double bogeyed. Still, Sorenstam had five birdies on the day, and her 69 left her somewhat in the hunt at 7 under. Clearwater's Jennifer Gleason shot par 72 to remain at 2 over in a tie for 38th.

Nationwide: Ricky Barnes, who was tied for the 36-hole lead with Fran Quinn, stayed on top after shooting 4-under 68 at the Oregon Classic. He is tied for the lead at 13-under 203, this time with Tim Wilkinson (67).

Asian tour: Korea's Yang Yong-eun grabbed a three-stroke lead at the Korea Open after shooting 3-under 68. Two-time U.S. Open winner Retief Goosen shot 69 to pull within six strokes at 7-under 206. Bubba Watson (75), one of the longest hitters on the PGA Tour, fell eight shots back and is tied for 11th.