Date: June 29, 2008

Jones chasing Chopra

Australian Matt Jones is still within striking distance of the lead after three rounds at the Buick Open. Jones (12 under) is four strokes off Swedish leader Daniel Chopra (16 under) after he recorded a one-under-par third round of 71. The Aussie, who began the day in a share of fourth spot, recorded four birdies and conceded three bogeys and drifted out to equal seventh as a result. Rod Pampling catapulted himself from equal 48th at the start of the round to be the next best Australian on 11 under after he registered a blistering seven-under-par round of 65. Chopra opened up a two-stroke lead after the third round following a four-under-par 68 on Sunday. Chopra sunk a 15-foot birdie on the 18th hole to move onto 16-under 200 overall, two clear of Dudley Hart, Woody Austin and Bubba Watson. The 34-year-old Swede played his opening nine holes in two under and had a one-stroke lead over Hart. Chopra then started his back nine with a birdie and closed it with another while Hart bogeyed the last to drop into a tie for second. “Today I was fairly surprised that the scores did not kind of run away; being two behind and being behind Bo Van Pelt, I was pretty sure that pretty close to 20-under was going to be leading by the end of the day,” Chopra said. “I got up to 16 and that kept me with a two-shot lead; I don&apost know how. I can&apost explain it. Maybe the rain overnight softened up the fairways and the course wasn&apost playing as short and the greens were softer.” Two-time PGA Tour winner Chopra started the season with a win at the season-opening Mercedes-Benz Championship, but has struggled since and has only managed a 32nd place at the Sony Open. “Everybody says it&aposs tough to play with a lead, but we try to get a lead, and two shots is better than one, and three is better than two,” added Chopra. “So the bigger the lead you&aposve got, the better. And it just gives that you little bit of a cushion to allow yourself that one extra hole where maybe you should have made a birdie on that you expected to make birdie and if you don&apost, it gives you that extra one hole of patience. That&aposs what I&aposm going to do out there tomorrow is practising patience all day long.” After a 70 on Sunday, his worst round of the tournament, Hart was not willing to venture a guess on a winning score, but he did look forward to setting up more birdie opportunities after making four in the third round against two bogeys. “It depends on weather; depends on wind. I&aposm not going to really worry about a number,” said Hart, who is also searching for his third tour title and first since the 2000 Honda Classic. “I&aposm just going to try to follow the shots, and I feel like my putter is working pretty well for the most part. And if I can get myself some more opportunities, I feel confident that I can make some.” Third Round of The Buick Open (Par 72): -16: Daniel Chopra 65 67 68 -14: Bubba Watson 67 67 68, Woody Austin 66 67 69, Dudley Hart 64 68 70 -13: Kenny Perry 69 67 67, Bo Van Pelt 64 66 73 -12: Briny Baird 65 71 68, Charles Warren 67 68 69, Ken Duke 69 66 69, Matt Jones (Australia) 70 63 71 -11: Corey Pavin 64 74 67, Rod Pampling (Australia) 71 69 65, Michael Letzig 69 67 69, Lucas Glover 70 66 69 -10: Brett Rumford (Australia) 70 69 67, Craig Barlow 70 69 67, Bob Tway 68 71 67, Scott Verplank 68 72 66, Charlie Wi 72 65 69, Paul Goydos 71 70 65, Todd Hamilton 70 66 68, Fredrik Jacobson 68 66 72 Also: -9: Stephen Leaney (Australia) 67 70 70 -8: Mark Hensby (Australia) 71 68 69, Gavin Coles (Australia) 71 69 68 -6: Nick O Hern (Australia) 68 72 70 -5: Peter Lonard (Australia) 70 68 73 -4: Tim Wilkinson (New Zealand) 71 70 71 -3: Matthew Goggin (Australia) 68 72 73 -1: Jason Day (Australia) 73 68 74 +2: Steve Allan (Australia) 69 71 78