Howell breezes into lead with finishing flourish

Charles Howell earned the third-round lead at the Sony Open in Hawaii on Saturday after carding an impressive five-under-par 65.

Howell has made a habit of close calls on the PGA Tour, eight times finishing runner-up, with his lone victory in 2002. But the 27-year-old stormed home with four birdies in the final six holes in a moderate breeze at Waialae Country Club. Birdies at the final two holes left Howell on 13 under, one ahead of Luke Donald (69) and two in front of halfway leader Paul Goydos (70).

Sixteen-year-old Tadd Fujikawa, who on Friday became the second youngest player to make a cut on the PGA Tour, continued his golden week, shooting 66 to vault into a tie for eighth, six shots off the pace.

In South Africa, the Argentine Ariel Canete triumphed at the inaugural Joburg Open yesterday. Canete, who led by one overnight, bogeyed the par-three second hole but then picked up two birdies on the front nine and three coming in to finish on 19 under par, a shot clear of Andrew McLardy of South Africa.

In Thailand, the defending champions Europe romped to an emphatic Royal Trophy victory with five victories in the eight singles matches against Asia.

Dominating the Ryder Cup-style matchplay event from the opening day, the visitors won by 12 1/ 2 -3 1/ 2 ensuring the trophy went back to Europe for a second successive year. The contest was decided after the first two matches, with a 4&3 victory from Lee Westwood and a half from Darren Clarke giving Europe an unassailable eight points.

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