Furyk takes one-shot lead in PGA's Verizon Heritage Wilson catches fire early at Mid-Pacific
HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. — Jim Furyk withstood a crazy Saturday shootout that could lead to an even wilder final round at the Verizon Heritage.
Furyk shot a 67 for an 11-under 202, good for a one-stroke lead over Brian Davis (66).
Another stroke back were two-time Verizon champ Boo Weekley (68), Stephen Ames (65), Briny Baird (66), Ricky Barnes (66), Luke Donald (67), Woody Austin (67) and Heath Slocum (67).
Right behind them at Harbour Golf Links was a group that included Camilo Villegas (67) and 2006 winner Aaron Baddeley.
In all, 23 players were within five strokes of the top.
"Tomorrow, it's go out and shoot as low as you can and not take your foot off the gas pedal," said Davis, who's never finished higher than second on the PGA Tour.
Furyk, at No. 6 in the world, is the highest-ranked player here following Masters' week. Not that Furyk was all that worn out since he missed the cut at Augusta National.
Nick O'Hern, who teed off five hours ahead of the final group, gave an early indication of yesterday's free-for-all with a 64 that put him atop the leaderboard before 36-hole leaders Furyk, Charles Howell III and Greg Owen were done with lunch.
"By the time I teed off I was in about fourth place, then I played a couple of holes and I was already dropping," Furyk said.
At 2:45 p.m., 10 players were tied for first, all on a course where Brian Gay set tournament records in 2009 with a 10-shot victory and 20-under score.
When Baird asked where the leaders were and was told he was on top, he quipped, "Yeah, me and eight other guys."
Almost, Briny, almost.
Furyk appeared as if he didn't have the stuff to keep up with just one birdie on the front side where players traditionally make runs. He picked up the pace on the back nine, chipping in for birdie from about 40 feet away on the 11th and making a 25-foot birdie putt two holes later.
"I got off to a slow start with my ball striking today," Furyk said. "Really made some good up and downs, kept myself in the game. Then probably down the stretch, it's probably the best I've hit it all week."
LANGER TOPS OUTBACK
Bernhard Langer shot a 5-under 66 yesterday for a one-stroke lead over Mark O'Meara and Mike Reid in the Champions Tour's Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am at Lutz, Fla.
Langer, the German star who won the Allianz Championship in February in Boca Raton, Fla., for his ninth Champions Tour title, had a 9-under 133 total at TPC Tampa Bay. O'Meara shot a 69, and Reid had a 68.
"My game plan seems to be working so far, so I'll play the same way I have the past two days," Langer said.
Fred Couples, trying to match the tour record for victories in consecutive starts of four set by Chi Chi Rodriguez in 1987, followed his opening 71 — his only score higher than 68 in 14 senior rounds — with a 67 to move into a tie for 12th at 4 under. The 50-year-old Couples is coming off a sixth-place finish in the Masters.
Tom Kite (67) was fourth at 7 under, and defending champion Nick Price (70) was another stroke back along with Keith Fergus (68) and Dan Forsman (66).
Tom Watson, the 2007 and 2008 winner, was 5 under after a 70 and tied with Hal Sutton (67) and Tom Pernice Jr. (70).
YANG LEADS IN CHINA
Y.E. Yang shot a 4-under 68 to take a one-stroke lead after three rounds of the China Open yesterday at Suzhou, China.
Yang's bogey-free round at Jinji Lake Golf Club left him with a 14-under total of 202, one shot ahead of Finland's Mikko Ilonen (68) and Welshman Jamie Donaldson (69).
"Today was bogey-free, but it was also tough to save par on a lot of occasions," said Yang, who was eighth at the Masters last week.
Pablo Larrazabal of Spain, a former European Tour rookie of the year, salvaged a 70 and was three shots back. Overnight leader Kim Do-hoon of South Korea Kim (73) and 2005 champion Stephen Donald of Wales (66) were at 10 under.