Woods consolidates lead

2006-07-23 16:32
Hoylake - Tiger Woods consolidated his lead early in the final round of the British Open on Sunday as playing partner Sergio Garcia's putting once again let him down.

The 30-year-old American was using long-irons again off the tee to reach all three opening par-four greens in regulation.

And while Woods safely negotiated the ensuing putts, Garcia missed a five-footer on the second and a three-footer on the third to slip three behind the defending champion.

Up ahead Ernie Els was also on a level par run and remained just one behind Woods, but Chris DiMarco bogeyed the first.

The biggest move early on was made by emerging Argentine golfer Andres Romero.

The 25-year-old from Tucuman went on a run of three straight birdies from the fourth to get to 11-under for the tournament, two strokes behind Woods.

Woods was aiming to join the legendary Walter Hagen as second equal on the all-time list of major championship winners.

If he holds to his one-stroke lead, it will give him his 11th title win in one of golf's four crown jewels and put him level with Hagen who reached that mark at the 1929 British Open.

Only Jack Nicklaus would lie ahead of him with his haul of 18 majors being the Holy Grail that Woods' entire career is based on surpassing.

It would also make Woods the first back-to-back winner of the British Open since Tom Watson in 1982-83 and confirm that he is back at the helm after his nine-week break from the game to mourn the death of his father.

But, while Woods has never lost a major while leading going into the final round, he started the day expecting a mighty challenge over the Royal Liverpool links with no fewer than 14 top-class players within five strokes of his lead.

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