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Golf Roundup

Birdies help Woods keep four-shot lead

Associated Press / December 5, 2010

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Tiger Woods is one round away from ending his worst year with a familiar finish.

Woods regained control with three straight birdies early in his round yesterday, then finished with a shot that covered the flag for one last birdie for a 4-under-par 68 at the Chevron World Challenge in Thousand Oaks, Calif.

The effort allowed him to maintain his four-shot lead over US Open champion Graeme McDowell, who also shot a 68. No one else was within eight shots of the lead.

Woods, who has gone more than a year without winning — or even coming close to winning — was at 17-under 199.

“I’m excited about tomorrow because of the way I’m playing,’’ said Woods, who has never lost a tournament that he has led by at least three shots going into the final round.

McDowell played with Woods in the first two rounds in the HSBC Champions at Shanghai last month, when Woods fell out of the hunt quickly with errant shots and suspect putting.

This was a different Woods he saw yesterday.

“I thought the ‘wide’ was still there,’’ McDowell said of Woods’s tee shots in Shanghai. “I thought he controlled it very well today. He really only had one bad drive, and he’s so impressive around the green. He’s the best there ever was around the greens.’’

Off the course, Woods was dethroned as the PGA’s Player of the Year, the award going to 40-year-old Jim Furyk. Woods had won nine of the past 11 years. Furyk won three tournaments, had seven top-10 finishes, and finished second behind Matt Kuchar on the money list with $4.8 million over 21 events.

PGA Qualifying School — Brookline’s James Driscoll shot a 6-under 66 to move into second place, one shot behind Ben Martin, after four rounds in Winter Garden, Fla. The players still have two rounds to go, with the top 25 finishers earning PGA Tour cards for 2011, and the next 50 becoming exempt on the Nationwide Tour.

LPGA — Cristie Kerr shot a 1-under 71 for the third straight round at the Tour Championship in Orlando, Fla., to put her in contention to become the first American in 16 years to win LPGA Player of the Year honors.

“Everybody can imagine how much it would mean to me and for American golf,’’ Kerr said.

Kerr, 1 under for the tournament, is in a tight pack and trails leader Amy Yang by three strokes entering the final round.

Kerr needs nothing short of victory to unseat points leader Yani Tseng and become the first American since Beth Daniel in 1994 to claim the award.

“We also do need an American to win awards like Player of the Year and really start to bring the LPGA Tour back to the United States,’’ Kerr said.

Australian Open — Geoff Ogilvy shot a 5-under 67 to increase his lead to five strokes heading into the final round of his country’s championship in Sydney. Ogilvy had a 16-under 200 to gain four strokes on Matt Jones.

Nedbank Challenge — Lee Westwood shot a 1-under 71 to lead by five strokes after the third round in Sun City, South Africa. His closest challenger in the 12-player invitational tournament, Ross Fisher, finished with a 73 on a hot day, made tougher by a swirling wind.