At least one thing back to normal: Woods leading again

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The Independent Online

With flags flying high and spirits raised by a moving memorial to Payne Stewart, the US Tour Championship tried to return to normal on Saturday. Tiger Woods certainly did his part.

With flags flying high and spirits raised by a moving memorial to Payne Stewart, the US Tour Championship tried to return to normal on Saturday. Tiger Woods certainly did his part.

Woods showed no effects from a stinging pain that shot through his wrist and arm after hitting a rock on a shot in Thursday's round, finishing off a round of 66 in a series of rainstorms and adding a 4-under 67 in the cool, blustery afternoon to take a three-stroke lead at Champions Golf Club.

Woods was at 13-under 200 and in great position to win his third straight tournament and seventh in his last 10 starts. He has won the last 10 times after having at least a share of the lead after 54 holes.

Chris Perry made four birdies to complete a 64, and had a 69 in the afternoon to finish at 203. Brent Geiberger was another stroke back after a 68.

Davis Love III, tied with Woods at 9 under when the second round was completed, had a 73 in the afternoon and was in the group at 203 that included defending champion Hal Sutton.

Because the American PGA Tour canceled play Friday so players could attend the memorial service for Stewart in Orlando, Florida, 27 holes were played Thursday and Saturday, setting up a regular 18-hole final on Sunday.

Remembrances of Stewart, one of six people killed in a freak plane crash on Monday, were still evident. Several players wore bracelets that said "WWJD" - What Would Jesus Do - which were handed out during the memorial service Friday.

Stewart wore the bracelet when he won the US Open in June.

"Before the memorial service, everything was up in the air," said Phil Mickelson, who finished second to Stewart in the US Open. "Now, we're at a point where we can deal with it. The word you often use is closure. Today was the first day to try to move on, and to deal with it as best as possible."

Flags that had been at half-staff all week returned to their regular height, and most players felt more at ease having seen the strength of Tracey Stewart, who gave a moving tribute to her 42-year-old husband.

"I came to an understanding, a resolve," Woods said. "Seeing Tracey speak from the heart ... that was incredible. To end it the way she did - 'Let the party begin in heaven' - that said it all."

Woods' play also spoke volumes - with a stiff neck, no less.

Woods pinched a nerve when he tried to hit through a fist-sized rock late in the day on Thursday. Physical therapists said he would feel stiffness through the weekend, but Woods already was feeling better. He arrived an hour before his tee time and headed toward the trailer - but only to tell the therapists he wouldn't be needing their services.

"I'm not hardheaded," Woods said with a smile. "Just stubborn."

Woods made eight birdies in 27 holes, in a myriad of conditions. It was hot and humid, and then the rain poured on three occasions during the first nine holes.

After more sunshine and showers, a cold front blew through when Woods and Love made the turn and it felt more like the British Open.

THIRD ROUND SCORESTiger Woods 67-66-67-200 Chris Perry 70-64-69-203 Brent Geiberger 68-69-68-205 Steve Pate 67-69-69-205 Davis Love III 64-69-73-206 Hal Sutton 72-70-64-206 Duffy Waldorf 66-74-66-206 Fred Funk 66-70-71-207 Tom Lehman 72-67-68-207 Nick Price 70-66-72-208 Jeff Sluman 69-70-69-208 Carlos Franco 65-72-71-208 David Duval 70-71-67-208 John Huston 68-71-69-208 David Toms 73-68-67-208 Tim Herron 66-72-71-209 Ted Tryba 70-70-69-209 Justin Leonard 67-73-69-209 Jeff Maggert 73-72-64-209 Notah Begay III 70-69-71-210 Phil Mickelson 73-68-70-211 Dennis Paulson 72-70-69-211 Stuart Appleby 72-69-70-211 Vijay Singh 74-68-70-212 Loren Roberts 73-72-68-213 Jim Furyk 69-72-72-213 Ernie Els 68-71-75-214 Bob Estes 70-70-75-215 Mike Weir 76-73-68-217

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