Golf: Woods back on the attack

TIGER WOODS took charge in the NEC Invitational with a magnificent third round at the $5m (pounds 3.125m) here on Saturday. The world's top-ranked player, who just two weeks ago won the PGA Championship, his second major title, showed again that his best is better than anyone else's.

He took advantage of benign conditions on the damp, Firestone course to amass eight birdies in a flawless eight-under-par 62, missing an eight- footer at the last that would have matched Jose Maria Olazabal's course record.

Woods was at an 11-under 199 with one round left, five strokes clear of fellow American Fred Couples and Zimbabwe's Nick Price. Paraguay's Carlos Franco, who shared the halfway lead with Scotland's Paul Lawrie, shot 70 to fall six strokes behind, while Lawrie plunged out of contention with a 74.

"I honestly can't say I putted great, because most of my shots were within 10 feet." said Woods, who started the day two strokes off the lead. "I've been able to drive the ball in the fairway all week. I knew the course record was 61, but I wanted to increase my lead, not necessarily get the course record. My goal was to build as much space as I could between first and second place."

Sweden's Klas Eriksson produced a storming finish in the wind and rain at Gleneagles yesterday to give himself a one-shot lead going into the final round of the Scottish PGA Championship.

The 28-year-old from Vaxjo pitched in for an eagle three at the 503-yard 12th, and then birdied the 16th and 18th for a 71 and a seven-under-par total of 209, one ahead of Rolf Muntz of Holland.

Justin Rose started the day only two shots off the pace after excellent opening rounds of 68 and 71. But Rose could not repeat the feat in the inclement weather and a catalogue of errors saw him stumble to an 82 and a five-over-par total of 221, virtually putting paid to his chances of a maiden professional win.

Scores, Digest, page 11

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