January 28, 2006

Garcia tied for Buick lead, Woods, Mickelson lurk

By Mark Lamport-Stokes

SAN DIEGO (Reuters) - Sergio Garcia and Australia's Rod
Pampling shared a one-shot lead at the Buick Invitational after
Saturday's third round with three-time champions Tiger Woods
and Phil Mickelson hot on their heels.

Spaniard Garcia and Pampling fired matching four-under-par
68s to finish on 11-under 205, one stroke ahead of Woods and
Australia's Nathan Green.

World number one Woods surged into contention for a record
fourth title at Torrey Pines with a sparkling 67 while
left-hander Green returned a 69 on the testing South Course.

Mickelson, who held the outright lead before slipping back
over the closing stretch, also shot a 69 to lie fifth at nine
under, level with Sweden's Jesper Parnevik (73) and overnight
pacesetter Brandt Jobe (75).

Five strokes off the pace overnight, Garcia made a
stumbling start with a double-bogey six at the second hole.

However, the world number six recovered with birdies on
five, six and nine to reach the turn at one-under 35.

Playing solid golf, he picked up further shots at the 10th,
12th and the last to overhaul Woods, who briefly held the
clubhouse lead.

"It was a bit of a rough start," Garcia told reporters.
"After that, I settled down, told myself I was playing well and
just needed to get on a run.

"From then on, I played pretty solid all the way coming

Like Garcia, Woods rallied from a slow start, reeling off
five birdies in the last 10 holes for the lowest round of the


Playing his first tournament of the year, the game's
leading player put himself in line to clinch the 47th PGA Tour
victory of his career on a course where he feels completely at

"I just feel very comfortable with the lines here at Torrey
Pines," Woods said. "It fits my eye.

"Today was very good," he added. "I didn't start off
hitting the ball well but got it around from there with a lot
of good shots.

"I felt like I really controlled my golf ball out there and
at least I put myself into position going into tomorrow."

Woods, who struggled off the tee on his way to an opening
71, stayed in the hunt to become the first player to win four
Buick Invitational titles.

After missing the fairway to the right on five of the first
six holes on a cold, overcast morning, he began to click as
Torrey Pines became drenched in bright sunshine.

A prodigious drive straight down the middle at the par-five
ninth set up his second birdie of the day and he picked up
another shot at the par-four 10th after hitting his approach to
six feet.

Although Woods found one of two front greenside bunkers at
the par-five 13th, he splashed out to within four feet of the
flag for birdie number four.

Further birdies followed on 15 and 17 after superb tee
shots on both holes set up precision wedges into the green.

Mickelson, champion in 1993, 2000 and 2001, made a rousing
start as birdies on two, three, six, nine and 11 put him one
shot clear at 11 under.

However, the left-hander lost momentum over the closing
holes with bogeys on 12, 15 and 17 before a birdie at the last.

"I had it going out there but then I let it get away,"
Mickelson said. "But I think its cool that so many guys are
around the lead going into tomorrow."