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Duval amid logjam at Lytham

Along with Woosnam, Langer and Cejka, the Jacksonville native tops a tight British Open field.

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times,
published July 22, 2001


LYTHAM ST. ANNES, England -- As David Duval walked off the 17th green Saturday, he handed his putter to his caddy, Mitch Knox, and asked, "Is that acceptable, Mitch?"

Knox smiled and nodded after Duval's save from a nearly impossible lie helped salvage the finest round of the day and put him atop a leaderboard crowded with 23 players within three shots of the lead.

With a stunning 6-under-par 65 that matched the lowest round in the 130th British Open, Duval posted his score 30 minutes before 36-hole leader Colin Montgomerie teed off at Royal Lytham & St. Annes. By the end of the overcast day, in which 10 players either shared or held the lead outright, Duval's 6-under 207 earned a piece of the lead with three Europeans: Ian Woosnam, Bernhard Langer and Alexander Cejka.

"I feel like I've been there (in contention in majors on Sunday) and I've proven I can play under those conditions," said Duval, a Jacksonville native who was runner-up in the Masters and close to the 54-hole lead at the U.S. Open until a final-round 74 left him in 16th. "It's hard. But I know I have it in me. ... I want to take that trophy home tomorrow."

The last time there was a four-way tie for the lead after the third round of a major was at St. Andrews in the 1978 British Open, featuring Jack Nicklaus, Peter Oosterhuis, Isao Aoki and Ben Crenshaw. Nicklaus won by two strokes.

So tight was Saturday's leaderboard that with one swing -- Greg Owen's double eagle from 240 yards on the par-5 11th hole -- he went from a tie for 15th to second place. Duval had an even greater turnaround. He started Saturday with 34 players in front of him.

The German Langer and the Welsh Woosnam, both past Masters champions, were paired together and seemed to feed off each other's success. Both use long putters, in white-hot mode Saturday, and each shot 67 to move to the top. Langer could have been the sole leader save for a sloppy bogey on his final hole.

Cejka, a native of Czechoslovakia who resides in Germany, got to 9 under after 14 holes with a run of seven birdies in a 10-hole stretch. He bogeyed three of his last four for 69 and a share of the lead.

"It's going to be an exciting day," Cejka said of today's final round.

Nine men were a shot back at 5-under 208, including Montgomerie. Showing more scowl than smile despite fabulous fan support, Montgomerie missed four short birdie putts on the front nine, double-bogeyed No. 14 and came in with 73.

American Joe Ogilvie (71), playing his first British Open, also was in that group of nine a shot behind after making bogey at the final hole. So was Jesper Parnevik (71), who briefly was alone in first place at 7 under through 16 holes before a double bogey at the 17th.

Duval and Montgomerie are considered in that cliched category of best players in the world never to have won a major championship. Despite his putting woes, Montgomerie, a three-time major runner-up, may have his best chance of breaking through today.

"It's anybody's Open," Montgomerie said.

Tiger Woods got to 5 under early in his front nine, only to make double-bogey seven at the 557-yard No. 7. Wayward tee shots continued to plague the No. 1 golfer in the world.

"I wasn't feeling comfortable in my swing today and unfortunately it showed," Woods, who skipped interviews to practice, told a press officer in the scorer's hut after his 73 left him five back. "I need to have the weather pretty tough tomorrow so it will be hard for the leaders to go low. Hopefully I can post a good number and see what happens."

Unlike most in the field, Duval had no major problems. He had seven birdies and one bogey after his putting stroke seemed to kick in. That has been his weakness the past few months, and Duval said he worked hard on putting the first three practice days. He also changed the shaft in his putter, and about 30 minutes before Saturday's round he had his putter bent a little more upright so he could feel more comfortable.

It started to work properly when he made a 10-footer for birdie at the second hole. But his round turned around with four birdies in a five-hole stretch that began with a 35-footer at the 557-yard No. 7 and ended when he was just off the green on the 542-yard 11th, chipped to within four feet and made the putt.

Duval, his three co-leaders and the 28 other players within five shots of the lead should have a lovely little Sunday shootout for the championship.

"It might require a 65 again," Duval said. "I think I'm capable of shooting that score. I just did it."

British Open

LEADERS

David Duval69-73-65-207

Ian Woosnam72-68-67-207

Bernhard Langer71-69-67-207

Alex Cejka69-69-69-207

Joe Ogilvie69-68-71-208

Jesper Parnevik69-68-71-208

C. Montgomerie65-70-73-208

Pierre Fulke 69-67-72-208

Miguel A. Jimenez69-72-67-208

Billy Mayfair69-72-67-208

Nick Price73-67-68-208

Darren Clarke70-69-69-208

Raphael Jacquelin 71-68-69-208

OTHERS

Mark O'Meara70-69-72-211

Tiger Woods71-68-73-212

TODAY ON TV: 8 a.m., Ch. 28.

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