Weir stays one ahead at Kapalua

Sun Jan 6, 2008 12:23am EST
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KAPALUA, Hawaii (Reuters) - Canadian Mike Weir, bidding for his ninth PGA Tour title, retained his one-shot lead in Saturday's third round at the season-opening Mercedes-Benz Championship.

A stroke ahead of the pack overnight, Weir held off strong challenges by compatriot Stephen Ames, Swede Daniel Chopra and American Jonathan Byrd with a five-under-par 68.

The left-hander got up and down from just short of the green at the par-five last for his fifth birdie of the day and a 13-under total of 206 at the Kapalua Resort's Plantation Course.

American Nick Watney, the first-round leader, was alone in second place after shooting a six-birdie 67 with Chopra (67) and Byrd (69) a further stroke back in a tie for third.

Ames carded a 70 to lie fifth at 10 under, one ahead of world number three Jim Furyk who was among a group of four tied for sixth after firing a best-of-the-day 66.

Twelve players were bunched within five strokes of the lead in the elite event which brings together the title-holders from the previous PGA Tour season.

Former Masters champion Weir birdied the fifth and ninth to reach the turn at 10 under overall, tied for the lead with playing partner Ames.

Ames stumbled at the 10th, running up a bogey there after missing the green in two, but Weir was twice caught by Chopra before breaking clear over the closing holes.

The Canadian saved par at the 13th after finding a greenside bunker with his approach. After splashing out, he coolly sank a 10-footer to stretch his bogey-free run to 38 holes.   Continued...

<p>Canadian fans watch as Stephen Ames and Mike Weir of Canada walk onto the 15th green during the third round of the Mercedes-Benz Championship golf tournament in Kapalua, Hawaii January 5, 2008. REUTERS/Hugh Gentry</p>