Sunday, March 16, 2003

Love in control at Honda

Leonard trails leader by stroke

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. - Davis Love III is considered the top player in the Honda Classic field. He showed why Saturday.

The only player in the tournament among the top 10 in the world was 7 under through the final 11 holes of the third round, and wound up with a second straight 65.

Love is 20 under at 196, and has a one-shot lead over Justin Leonard.

Leonard birdied the final six holes to shoot an 8-under 64 and will join Love and short-game specialist Chris Riley in the final group.

It could be shootout, because 13 players are within four strokes.

"Love and Leonard, they're Hall of Famers in my book, so I think they will be the guys to beat," said Riley, who is two strokes back. "They have been there a lot. I haven't been there as much as them. That's why people come out to watch - to see if someone like me can beat those guys."

Love, the No. 7 player in the world, has been the most consistent player through three rounds at the Honda - shooting 66-65-65 - and has been one of the steadiest on tour this season.

He hasn't missed a cut, winning at Pebble Beach last month, finishing in a tie for 17th in the Match Play Championship and posting two 12th-place finishes.

He's fourth on the money list ($1.17 million in five events). His worst finish was a tie for 49th in the Nissan Open.

"I think Davis is one of the top five players in the world," Billy Mayfair said. "When he gets on a roll and starts putting good, he's hard to beat.''

Love has 15 career wins on tour, but only two in the last five years.

Northern Kentuckian Steve Flesch (5-under 139) and Oak Hills High graduate Brett Wetterich (3-over 147) missed the cut (139).

LPGA TOUR: Lorie Kane, blown away with the rest of the field by Meg Mallon's 60 Friday, shot a 5-under 65 regain the lead in the year's first tour event in Tucson.

Kane also led the Welch's-Fry's first round after shooting a career-low 61, but trailed Mallon by three shots going into the third. A crucial swing occurred when Mallon, who was 19 under after playing 41 consecutive holes without a bogey, had back-to-back bogeys on the 13th and 14th holes.

QATAR MASTERS: Ian Woosnam and Constantino Rocca missed the cut after officials limited the field for the final two rounds to the top 50 players and ties at Doha.

James Kingston holds a two-stroke lead over David Howell.

The players will complete their third round today before playing the final round.

CHAMPIONS TOUR: The second round of the SBC Classic in Santa Clarita, Calif., was canceled because of rain and the tournament shortened to 36 holes.

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