Howell takes the lead at Sony Open


Published: Sunday, January 14, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 14, 2007 at 12:00 a.m.

HONOLULU — Charles Howell III has another chance to win the Sony Open, and he has never felt more prepared.

Howell devoted his offseason to putting and it continued to pay off Saturday when he birdied his last two holes for a 5-under 65, giving him a one-shot lead over Luke Donald going into the final round.

Still in the mix with the biggest smile at Waialae was 16-year-old Tadd Fujikawa, the pint-sized sophomore from Honolulu who delivered more surprises and allowed everyone to dream big. A day after becoming the youngest player in 50 years to make the cut on the PGA Tour, he shot another 66 and was tied for eighth, six shots behind.

Big things were expected of Howell when he was rookie of the year in 2001 and captured the Michelob Championship a year later. But the victories dried up, and a technically sound game has been held back by putting. He took only 25 putts in the third round, ranks second in the tournament in putting and was at 13-under 197.

Donald had a chance to join him with a long eagle putt on the last hole, but it stayed left. He shot a 69 and will be paired with Howell in the final group.

Paul Goydos was in control until missing a 6-foot birdie putt on the 12th that would have given him a two-shot lead. He took consecutive bogeys down the stretch and wound up with a 70 to finish at 11-under 199.

Steve Stricker (67) and Ted Purdy (66) were another shot back, followed by Jim Furyk (69) and Ryder Cup captain Paul Azinger (68).

CHAMPIONS SKINS GAME

Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson grabbed a share of the front-nine lead in Wailea, Hawaii, teaming for two skins to match defending champions Raymond Floyd and Dana Quigley at $60.000.

The duos of Arnold Palmer-Loren Roberts and Gary Player-Jay Haas were shutout in the four-team, alternate-shot event. With no one able to capture the last five skins, the par-4 10th will be worth six skins and $220,000 Sunday.

Nicklaus got his team on the board early, sinking a 4-foot birdie putt on the first hole to pick up $30,000. The sun-soaked crowed roared for the Golden Bear.

His putt was setup by a solid second shot by Watson. Nicklaus paid his teammate back two holes later by hitting a wedge to 3 feet, setting up an easy birdie.

ROYAL TROPHY

Anthony Wall and Paul McGinley edged Tetsuji Hiratsuka and Thaworn Wiratchant 1-up to help Europe take a 6-1 lead in Bangkok, Thailand. In other matches, Europe's Johan Edfors and Henrik Stenson beat Y.E. Yang and Toru Taniguchi 2 and 1, and Ryder Cup stars Darren Clarke and Lee Westwood halved with Thongchai Chaidee and Prom Meesawat.

, and Europe's Niclas Fasth and Robert Karlsson halved with Jeev Milka Singh and S.K. Ho.

Joburg Open

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AP) — Argentina's Ariel Canete topped the leaderboard at 12 under after nine holes when thunderstorms forced the suspension of third-round play in the Joburg Open.

Canete birdied three of his final four holes to take a one-stroke lead over South Africans Andrew McLardy and Hennie Otto. McLardy completed 11 holes Saturday, and Otto finished eight on the Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club's East Course

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