Top-ranked Tiger Woods squandered a three-stroke edge midway into his third round on Saturday, but shared the lead with defending champion Anthony Kim after 54 holes at the PGA National.
Woods and top foes unleashed US Independence Day fireworks at Congressional Golf Club with four men tied for the lead until Woods and Kim each birdied the par-5 16th hole to finish the third round on 10-under par 200.
Woods fired a third-round 70 while Kim shot 68 to put himself into a dream first-ever PGA pairing against 14-time major winner Woods, the idol whose heroic feats prompted the Korean-American sensation to play golf.
Michael Allen, a 50-year-old American who has not won in 336 US PGA starts, and countryman Cameron Beckman shared third on 201. US veteran Jim Furyk and Australian Rod Pampling are on 202 with US Open winner Lucas Glover on 203.
Tournament host Woods, seeking his 68th career crown, has won 44 of 47 prior US PGA events when leading or sharing the lead after 54 holes and has finished in the top 10 at 19 consecutive stroke-play tournaments.
Woods stretched his lead to three strokes with a 25-foot eagle putt at the par-5 ninth after blasting his tee shot 365 yards, leaving him at 11-under.
Allen birdied the last four holes on the front nine and ended a run of three birdies in four holes at the 16th to pull within two of the lead.
Woods faltered on his nemesis hole, the par-4 11th, where he made bogeys the first two days. Woods found a greenside bunker then popped up his third shot into another bunker and made double bogey, falling into a tie with Allen.
Kim, 24, joined the co-leaders with a birdie at the 12th and Beckman followed with an eagle at 16 to create a four-man lead logjam. Kim broke ahead with a five-foot birdie at 16 and Woods followed to tie him after his 4-iron shot stopped inches from the cup at 16.
When Kim was nine, he would imagine playing Woods for tournament titles. Now his dreams will become real.
Woods made real similar imaginary rounds against his idol, Jack Nicklaus. Now he is the hunted.
“I’m aging. That’s what that means,” Woods said.
Allen, whose 65 was the day’s low round, won his debut on the 50-and-over Champions Tour at May’s Senior PGA Championship. His only other pro wins were at the 1989 Scottish Open and 1998 Austin Open on the US developmental tour.
“I’m playing better. Maybe all these years are paying off,” he said. “I’m missing that big hole in my career. I enjoy playing every day and working at it. I’ve lost 336 straight times so the fear is kind of gone.”
Pampling, who shared third at the 6 million event last year, fired a 71. He dropped an 82-foot birdie putt at the 14th and a 40-footer at the sixth.
■OWENS CORNING CLASSIC
AFP, SYLVANIA, OHIO
South Korea’s Yi Eun-jung fired a 10-under 61 and grabbed the lead after the third round of the US$1.4 million LPGA Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic on Saturday.
Yi rolled in eight birdies and holed out from the fairway for an eagle at No. 10, posting a personal best score on the Tour.
The 21-year-old Yi moved to 18-under 195 and takes a four-shot lead over Kim Song-hee (64) and American Morgan Pressel (67) into yesterday’s fourth round.
Yi’s 61 was not a course record on the par-71 Highland Meadows as Paula Creamer shot a 60 in the opening round last year. Annika Sorenstam has the only 59 in LPGA Tour history.