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Archive for Saturday, March 4, 2006

Woods, Mickelson leading

Verplank, Villegas also tied atop Doral

March 4, 2006

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— Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson have been leaving their footprints on the Blue Monster for two days, their paths only running parallel on the few holes at Doral where the front nine meets the back.

That won't be the case today.

Mickelson birdied two of his last three holes Friday for a 6-under 66, while Woods settled for pars on his final four holes for a 5-under 67. It left them in a four-way tie for the lead with Scott Verplank and Camilo Villegas in the Ford Championship at Doral and in the final pairing for the third round.

This isn't eyeball-to-eyeball golf as it was last year at Doral, even if there will be thousands of eyeballs on them. It isn't the final round, for one thing, and there are nine players within three shots of the lead.

"There are guys that are right there that are going to go out and make a lot of birdies, and it will be easy for them. They will have no pressure on them," Mickelson said.

Not everyone cares about Woods and Mickelson in the final pairing, least of all Verplank, who joined them at 13-under 131 by playing a vastly different game. Verplank has moderate length off the tee, but it's usually in the fairway.

But after he nearly holed a chip with his 5-wood from behind the 18th green that would have given him the outright lead, a television reporter mentioned that he had crashed the party.

Villegas, the big-hitting rookie in pink pants from Colombia, nearly made eagle on the par-5 eighth and joined the leaders with an 18-foot birdie putt on his final hole for a 66.

Two former PGA champions - Davis Toms (66) and Rich Beem (67) - were one shot behind, along with Mark Wilson (67). The group at 10-under 134 included Dean Wilson, Lucas Glover and Chad Campbell, who continues to strike his irons with authority and chipped in from 40 yards on the 17th.

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