Levin cashes in as Woods stumbles on back nine

Journeyman hopes for first PGA Tour title as four-times champion loses way

Spencer Levin stole the limelight from the four-times champion Tiger Woods at the Memorial tournament yesterday, twice chipping in to take a one-shot lead in the wind-buffeted third round.

The American journeyman Levin, chasing hius first PGA Tour title, survived anxious moments on the back nine to card a three-under-par 69 and take control of the event hosted by golfing great Jack Nicklaus.

The 27-year-old shrugged off bogeys at the 12th and 16th, then sank a par putt from 14 feet at the 17th to post an eight-under total of 208.

The overnight leader Rory Sabbatini, of South Africa, had a 71 to finish at seven under, two better than the American Rickie Fowler, who birdied two of the last four holes for a 69.

Woods, who briefly led early in the third round, was alone in fourth at four under, recording four bogeys after the turn for a 73 as winds gusted up to 35 mph. "I had my opportunities to move up that board," Woods said after covering the back nine in three-over 39. "I missed a few putts that I should have made. I'm only four back but I've still got a lot of work to do tomorrow."

Woods sank a 22-foot birdie putt from the fringe of the green at the par-four first to join Sabbatini in a two-way tie at the top. Moments later, Woods held the outright lead when Sabbatini bogeyed the opening hole.

Woods was caught by Levin and Sabbatini before Levin took control, chipping in for an eagle at the par-five fifth. The chain-smoking Levin forged three ahead after hitting a superb approach to five feet at the par-four sixth and sinking the birdie putt.

Though Levin had his lead cut to one after he bogeyed the seventh where Woods had birdied, he never relinquished control. He chipped in from 30 yards to birdie the par-four 10th and stretch his lead to four shots.

Levin stumbled at the treacherous par-three 12th, where he was bunkered off the tee, and also at the 16th where he missed the green, but he parred the last two holes to stay in front.

At Celtic Manor, Ross Fisher overcame a foot injury to keep himself in the hunt for the Wales Open, a round of 71 taking him into the final day on six under, one shot behind Thailand's Thongchai Jaidee.

Fisher had stubbed his toe in his hotel room on Friday night. "One of the toes is as purple as anything," he said. "I iced it and two of the toes were strapped together, but I hit it everywhere and I'm glad to finish."

He was joined in second place by Holland's Joost Luiten, who went round in 64. Fisher, who had held a two-shot lead, made five bogeys to let the former paratrooper Jaidee take over at the top with a round of 67.