Date: March 25, 2007
Author: PA Sport

O’Hern chasing Woods

To the surprise of nobody, Tiger Woods doubled his lead in the third round of the CA World Championship in Miami on Saturday. Two ahead at halfway, the world number one enters the closing 18 holes four in front after a 68 highlighted by an opening eagle. The lowlight belonged to Ernie Els. Having climbed into a share of second place, Els finished with a double bogey six, blasting his drive wildly right, hitting a tree with his second, finding a bunker with his third and then thinning his recovery over the green. Woods stands 11-under-par and it is his Ryder Cup team-mate Brett Wetterich, round in a fine 67, who is his closest challenger. Third is Australian left-hander Nick O&aposHern, twice Woods&apos conqueror in the Accenture world match play, but a player who struggles to win in stroke play. His 66 matched the low round of the week also achieved by Paul Casey earlier in the day. Leading European is Thomas Bjorn in a tie for fourth alongside Els, Vijay Singh, Charles Howell, Aaron Baddeley and Tom Pernice. They have six strokes to make up and not one of them will be expecting to do it given the name of the leader. Despite the efforts of others to apply some pressure, Woods&apos brilliant second shot to within 10 feet of the first flag let everyone know his only thoughts were on extending his advantage. Woods will be delighted by his form, not only because he now has a great chance to add to his trophy collection and not only because the Masters is the week after next and he will be going for a third successive major – and 13th in all – there. His satisfaction will be that last week&aposs shocking finish to the Arnold Palmer Invitational – a closing seven, six dropped shots in the last three holes, an inward 43 – is now a distant memory. Defending the title he won under the American Express banner at The Grove near Watford last September, Woods did come up short of the sixth and failed to get up and down. But he came back in typical fashion with back-to-back birdies, holing from nine feet and then pitching to four feet on the long eighth after he had laid up short of the water off a wild drive. He then ended a run of pars by coming out of sand to seven feet at the 16th and had another chance on the dreaded 18th after another glorious approach, but missed the putt. First round co-leader Henrik Stenson is now back on four under alongside Casey, Sergio Garcia and Niclas Fasth. Casey was out in 32, birdied the 16th and 17th and was happy to par the 18th after his six in the second round. The Surrey golfer, recovering from a bad cold, said: “I went out with low expectations. I tried to carry on with the birdies and eliminate the mistakes and managed to do it. “I concentrated on every shot, which you have to do on a tough course like this. But the wind is not as strong – they&aposre pretty good golfing conditions.” Phil Mickelson became another victim of the 18th hole – just before Colin Montgomerie came a cropper there for the second day running. Ahead of his Masters defence, Mickelson played the first 17 holes in four under par but then closed with a double bogey six, driving into rough and compounding the error by three-putting. The left-hander is not playing next week&aposs Houston Open, so this is his final competitive tune-up for the first major of the season and opening rounds of 77 and 72 put him 57th in a field of only 73. The week before the Masters a year ago the world number three left the rest for dead at the BellSouth Classic in Atlanta, winning by a massive 13 strokes. And nobody could stop him winning the following Sunday as well. On Friday Montgomerie, having opened with a 75, worked so hard to move to level par and then gave it all away with a closing triple bogey seven. The Scot, who has slipped to 20th in the world, returned to the hole one under for the day, but whereas it was his second shot in the second round which bounced into the water off the rocks by the green, this time he found the lake with his drive. A double bogey six resulted, giving Montgomerie a 73 and 54-hole total of 219, three over. Padraig Harrington and Ian Poulter are level par, Poulter after a bogey, double bogey finish that ended any hopes he had. Leading scores after the third round of the CA Championship (par 72): -11: Tiger Woods 71 66 68 -7: Brett Wetterich 72 70 67 -6: Nick O&aposHern (Australia) 72 72 66 -5: Vijay Singh 74 68 69, Tom Pernice, Jr. 71 70 70, Aaron Baddeley (Australia) 69 71 71, Charles Howell III 69 71 71, Ernie Els 70 70 71, Thomas Bjorn 68 72 71 -4: Paul Casey 76 70 66 Niclas Fasth 72 70 70, Sergio Garcia 71 70 71, Geoff Ogilvy (Australia) 72 69 71, Henrik Stenson 67 73 72 -3:John Rollins 73 70 70, Zach Johnson 72 68 73, Rod Pampling (Australia) 70 69 74 -2: Dean Wilson 73 75 66, Jeev M. Singh 74 70 70, Trevor Immelman 72 68 74 Also -1: Robert Allenby (Australia) 67 74 74 +3: Adam Scott (Australia) 76 71 72, Nathan Green (Australia) 72 71 76 +6: Stuart Appleby (Australia) 79 72 71 +15: Michael Campbell (NZ) 77 76 78