Allenby takes one-shot lead after third round

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The Independent Online

Robert Allenby made a move on Saturday to keep the Houston Open title in Australia.

Allenby, who started the third round in a three-way tie for the lead, shot a 4-under-par 68 that included a scare on No 17 and held a one-shot lead in the $2.8 million Houston Open.

Allenby, trying to match countryman Stuart Appleby's Houston Open victory last year, had a 54-hole total of 13-under 203 and the slim lead over Craig Stadler, who shot a 69.

"We just like it here," Allenby said. "The courses we play in Australia are similar and there is great weather here. We just enjoy playing here."

Scott Hoch played among the contenders all day but bogeyed the final hole for a 70 and dropped into a tie for third with Fred Funk, who shot a 69.

Allenby started the day sharing the lead with Loren Roberts and Stadler at nine under. Roberts shot a third-round 72 and dropped into a group of six at 207.

Allenby had birdies on Nos 1 and 6 on the front and added two more at 13 and 15 to take the lead at 13 under.

He flirted with a bogey on No 17 when he barely avoided the water beside the green. His chip from the fringe lipped out and he made a short putt for par.

"It was just a solid day, I didn't go for much," Allenby said. "Obviously, 17 could have been trouble. I was very fortunate with my second shot and then I nearly chipped it in. I was relaxed and just went with the flow."

Allenby enjoyed the challenge of the final two holes over the 7,018-yard TPC at The Woodlands course.

"Seventeen and 18 are very challenging but I like the challenge," Allenby said. "Tomorrow, someone is going to shoot a good score. I hope it will be me. I'll stay patient. I can't do any more than that."

Stadler birdied his first hole of the day and played solid golf the rest of the day. He bogeyed No. 9 but got himself in contention with birdies at 15 and 17.

Tied at 206 were Joel Edwards, who shot a 67, Jonathan Kaye, 68, and Brad Fabel, 69.

"I drove the ball well today," Stadler said. "I didn't make a lot of putts. I had a lot of chances, but I hit the ball consistent throughout."

Hoch started the day one shot behind the leaders and missed a chance to tie Stadler for second place on the final hole when his tee shot sailed off the fairway and behind trees.

Hoch's second shot made it through the trees but he ended up with a bogey.

Funk bogeyed No 17 but came right back with a birdie on 18 when he came out of the rough and missed a water hazard.

"It came out right at the pin, which is pretty much water," Funk said. "Somehow, it had to be really close to the edge of the water and kicked up on the green and ended up being a perfect spot. I made that."

Hal Sutton, the winner last week at Greensboro and the only top 10 money-winner in the field, shot a 71 and was at 4-under 212.

Leading third-round scores from the Houston Open in Texas (USA unless stated):

203 R Allenby (Aus) 68 67 68 204 C Stadler 66 69 69 205 F Funk 67 69 69, S Hoch 71 65 69 206 J Edwards 68 71 67, B Fabel 70 67 69, J Kaye 72 66 68 207 F Allem (Rsa) 68 71 68, S Ames (Tri) 68 71 68, B May 72 66 69, S Micheel 68 70 69, L Roberts 68 67 72, C Martin 70 67 70 208 M Brooks 69 67 72, T Dodds (Nam) 69 72 67, D Forsman 70 68 70, K Sutherland 66 72 70, B Gay 66 73 69, C Franco (Par) 65 71 72, H Frazar 70 69 69, M Sposa 69 68 71, M Gogel 68 68 72