U.S. team 3 back, tied for third

Updated: November 20, 2004, 2:09 PM ET
Associated Press

SEVILLE, Spain -- Spain took the lead in the third round of World Cup golf Saturday, with Sergio Garcia and Miguel Angel Jimenez combining for an 11-under-par 61 to pull one shot ahead of England.

The U.S. team of Scott Verplank and Bob Tway shot a 64 and was three shots off the lead along with Ireland (64), Sweden (64) and defending champion South Africa (64). Japan (65) was four back with the Netherlands (63) and Australia (65) five behind. Austria (68) was six behind

Playing before a home crowd on the palm-lined Real Club de Golf de Sevilla, Garcia put Spain into the lead on the 16th hole with a 5-foot eagle putt -- his second eagle of the round. Spain is 24 under for three rounds.

"I really enjoy it when there is a big crowd following because I get a bit more into it," Garcia said. "I have a lot of people to make happy, to show what I can do."

The English pair of Luke Donald and Paul Casey began the round with a five-stroke lead over second-place Austria and six ahead of a half dozen other teams, including Spain. But England faded to a 68 in the day's better ball format. Sunday's final round will be the more difficult alternate shot format.

"There were a few opportunities that just lipped out today, a couple of chips I hit lipped out," Donald said. "If those had gone in for either of us, it could have been a very satisfactory round."

The United States had six birdies on the front nine, with Verplank knocking in a 10-foot eagle putt on No. 13 to move to 21 under and threaten the lead. But the Americans managed only pars on the final five holes.

The Oklahoma neighbors entered the event only after nine other higher-ranked Americans turned down the invitation. They played with Garcia and Jimenez and fed off the big crowds.

"I enjoy having all the people out there," Verplank said. "They all love Sergio and Miguel. It makes it a little more exciting."

Ireland's Padraig Harrington and Paul McGinley, who shared the first-round lead after a 60, bounced back from a 71 Friday.

Despite a sunny day, scoring conditions were slightly more difficult than the first two rounds because of shifting winds and tougher pin placements.

The Spanish players, who helped Europe to a lopsided win over the United States two months ago in the Ryder Cup, were 4 under after eight holes. Then they birdied five of the next six holes, saved par on No. 15 and moved ahead of England when Garcia hit a 140-yard wedge to 5 feet and dropped an eagle putt on No. 16.

"They are a formidable team under any circumstances, but with the passion they have, they are going to be tough to beat," McGinley said.


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press

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