Woods in command at British Open Shoots third-round 67 to take six-stroke lead

Saturday, July 22nd 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland - Tiger Woods extended his lead at the British Open despite two rare bogeys Saturday and moved closer to becoming the youngest player ever to win the career Grand Slam.

Woods shot a 67 in the third round to open up a six-stroke lead over David Duval and Thomas Bjorn.

While several players challenged early on another perfect day for scoring, Woods shook off the bogeys to pick up three more strokes on his closest pursuers.

"The tournament is not over yet or I'd be sitting here next to the trophy,'' Woods said. "There's 18 more holes.''

Duval, who will be paired with Woods for the final round, made the biggest move of the day with a 66, tied for the best round of the Open so far. Bjorn shot a 68.

Woods' 4-foot putt on No. 2 lipped out, ending a streak of 63 holes of par or better in major championships. It was his first bogey since the 11th hole of the third round of the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach last month.

Woods followed the miss with birdies on five of seven holes starting at No. 8, virtually putting the Open away. He bogeyed No. 17, the infamous Road Hole, before finishing with another birdie on the final hole for a total of 200 over three rounds.

One stroke behind Duval and Bjorn were David Toms, Darren Clarke and Loren Roberts, followed by Ernie Els, Tom Lehman, Steve Flesch and Dennis Paulson.

Els would have been closer to Woods, but he double-bogeyed the 12th hole after hitting into some thick bushes.

On another sunny day with just light wind off the North Sea, Bernhard Langer and Bob May set the early pace with 6-under 66s.

Langer, who has been runner-up twice at the Open, pulled within five shots of Woods.

"The conditions are perfect,'' Langer said. "I haven't given up hope yet.''

But he admitted, "It's going to be hard to make up the distance.''

A day earlier a sun-splashed Old Course turned gloomy for a lot of players who still harbored hopes as Woods strolled to an effortless 66 for a three-shot lead. That was half the lead Woods had last month at Pebble Beach.

With Woods playing so well, it appeared somebody would have to shoot a pair of career rounds to pass him.

"Anybody who plays mistake-free golf is going to be tough to beat,'' Lehman said.

Woods was rarely in trouble. Some 112 treacherous bunkers guard the Old Course, but he had not touched sand once with his wedge.

Woods seemed destined to add the only major championship he lacks to the U.S. Open title he won last month by 15 strokes. At 24, he would become the youngest player to complete the career Grand Slam.

It's enough to get his competitors thinking, though Woods isn't sure about what.

"I am not in their shoes,'' he said. "It is hard for me to understand what they're thinking and what they're feeling and what their thought process is.

"I know what mine is, and I think that's all I need to know.''