Sauers, Verplank one stroke back

Updated: March 6, 2004, 11:34 PM ET
Associated Press

MIAMI -- Craig Parry hasn't quite adjusted to the time change from Australia. He has figured out Doral's Blue Monster.

His biggest problem through three rounds of the Ford Championship has been getting to the course on time.

Parry shot a 5-under 67 on Saturday, moving to 13-under 203 and taking a one-shot lead over Gene Sauers (64) and Scott Verplank (65).

Phil Mickelson, Joe Durant, Chris DiMarco and three others were two strokes back at 11 under. The tightly grouped field -- 18 players within five shots of the lead -- should make for an exciting final round on Doral's beefed-up Blue Monster course.

"Anyone within eight shots can win," Parry said.

The signature par-4 18th hole has a good chance to determine the outcome. The 467-yard hole, lengthened by 24 yards last year, allowed just four birdies Saturday and 22 through three rounds.

Danny Ellis found the water on his second shot, made double bogey and dropped to 11 under. Durant three-putted for bogey.

Mickelson and second-round leader Retief Goosen made two of the four birdies there playing in the final group.

Not coincidentally, Parry is the only player near the top of the leaderboard who hasn't made a bogey on No. 18, which is playing tougher (4.55 scoring average) than any hole on the PGA Tour this year.

"It's obviously a very pivotal hole," said Durant, who won Doral in 2001. "A one-shot lead is certainly not safe going into 18."

The conditions could play a role, too. With little wind Saturday, the course played considerably easier. Thirty-four players scored in the 60s; only 41 players were in the 60s during the first two rounds combined -- and that's with twice as many players in the field.

"This course is designed to be played with wind," said Mark Calcavecchia, who is four shots back after a triple bogey on No. 12. "When the wind isn't blowing, the course is there for the taking."

Parry went 48 holes without a bogey before making one at the par-4 No. 17 Saturday. His last bogey came on his fourth hole of the first round. Of course, he was still getting warmed up.

The Australian woke up less than 15 minutes before his 7:54 tee time, saying he slept right through the alarm clock because he was so jet-lagged from his trip. He threw on a hodgepodge of clothes that included black pants, a blue belt and white shoes and headed for the first tee without any practice.

"I didn't know whether I was going to hit it in the water or the trees," said Parry, whose only tour victory came at the 2002 NEC Invitational. "We just had a shock of a day."

Parry was 1 under in the opening round, but 12 under in the 36 holes since. No one has played better over the same span.

But that doesn't mean he has gotten accustomed to the 16-hour time difference between Sydney and Miami.

He woke up around midnight Saturday, struggled to get back to sleep and barely made his third-round tee time.

"I'd like to think it's a good omen," he said.

Parry made six putts over 7 feet in length, including five for birdies. His best, though, was the one for par. He found the front bunker on the 170-yard par-3 15th, chipped out from a bad lie and sank a putt from about 25 feet.

But the shot of the day belonged to Ellis, who made birdie after his second shot on the par-5 No. 10 nearly landed in the water twice.

The shot from 281 yards hit a row of rocks guarding water along the left side of the green, bounced straight up, hit the rocks again and ricocheted toward the hole. He chipped to about 8 feet and made the putt for birdie.

Ellis was tied with Parry at 13 under before his double bogey on No. 18.

"The way the wind can blow out here, anyone can go out and shoot a good round and bypass a lot of guys on top of the leaderboard," Parry said. "But I'm in a good position. I've got a chance to win it."

Divots
Nick Price made an eagle on the par-4 No. 16, sinking his second shot from 170 yards. ... Peter Lonard and Dean Wilson each received a penalty stroke after hitting each other's ball on No. 16. They were playing identical balls with the same numbers, and both assumed Lonard was the longer tee shot because he had been so all day. They both saved bogey. ... Lonard was 6 under on the front nine, one shot off the course record set by Tom Kite in 1974 and 1979. ... Brian Bateman teed off first and alone Saturday. He finished his round in 2 hours, 33 minutes.


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press

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