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Tiger seizes US Open lead

Tiger Woods pulls off a remarkable birdie-eagle finish to seize the third-round lead in the US Open golf championship.
By HT Correspondent | IANS, San Diego
UPDATED ON JUN 16, 2008 12:00 AM IST

Tiger Woods, hobbled by his painful left knee, pulled off a remarkable birdie-eagle finish Saturday to seize the third-round lead in the US Open golf championship.

Woods, who was left wincing after many of his shots on the back nine, got a feel-good moment at 17 when his chip from a difficult downhill lie in greenside rough took one hop and found the cup.

At 18 his second shot from the fairway left him grimacing, but he rolled a 35-footer into the heart of the cup to complete a one-under 70 for three-under 210.

With the eagle he leapfrogged over England's Lee Westwood, who was in the clubhouse on two-under 211 after a 70.

Despite his difficulties, Woods is a potent threat to claim his third US Open and 14th major championship.

He is 13-for-13 in majors when he has held at least a share of the 54-hole lead.

American Rocco Mediate led for much of the day, settling for a one-over 72 that left him on one-under 212.

Australia's US Open champion Geoff Ogilvy carded a 72 for one-over 214, where he was joined by American D.J. Trahan (73).

Overnight leader Stuart Appleby shot himself out of the running early, finishing with a 79 for 218. Sweden's Robert Karlsson, who started the day tied with Woods and Mediate one stroke behind Appleby, posted a 75 for 215.

Woods, who had surgery on his left knee two days after his runner-up finish to Trevor Immelman at the Masters, hadn't played a competitive round until this week.

He put himself in contention on Friday with a superb 68, but couldn't immediately build on that momentum Saturday.

For the second time in three days he double-bogeyed the first and he was fresh off a bogey at 12 and three-over for the day when he arrived at the par-five 13th.

His tee shot was outside the ropes, but from there he reached the back of the green and sank a monster 65-footer for eagle.

He gave a shot back at the next, and at 15 his tee shot caused the pain in his knee to flare, causing him to bend over sharply after the shot.

He made his par, and parred 16 as well despite finding the rough off the tee.

On 17, the wince after his approach was replaced by a grin of disbelief when his chip found the hole to move him to one-under, one stroke behind Westwood.

"I just hit it too hard," Woods said. "It came out a little warm, and when I hit it, I figured I would have eight to 10 feet coming back," he said.

"It's pure luck when it goes in on one hop like that," said Woods, who was still laughing as caddie Steve Williams helped him up the steep bank.

That took him to the par-five finishing hole where he shrugged off the pain of his second shot to grab the lead.

Woods, who has been terse in discussing his injury throughout the week admitted his knee was "more sore" on Saturday.

"As soon as I get out of here I'm going to put some ice on it," he said. "It does affect what I'm trying to do. It acts up on certain shots. I can't say it's a driver and I can't say it's a wedge.

Certain shots I just feel it more on."

Chopra slips to 58th

The front nine of the Torrey Pines once again proved to be a problem for Daniel Chopra, who went for a second successive four-over 75 to slip down to tied 58th at the end of the third round. Chopra is now 10-over for three days.

Chopra's earlier rounds were 73 and 75. The Indo-Swede player had three bogeys on the front stretch and another two on the back nine with just one birdie to show for the day on the par-5 13th hole.

This is the second US Open for Chopra, whose earlier finish in 2004 at Shinnecock Hills was tied 24th.

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