Worst to first for Couch Golfer experiences strange days in New Orleans

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-NEW ORLEANS (AP) – Chris Couch is on some kind of wild ride in the Big Easy.

When he arrived Sunday night, he got lost walking to his car in downtown New Orleans and asked a group of women for a ride. That turned into a “weird” situation, and they let him out in a seedy section of a town that made him so scared Couch ran barefooted for 20 minutes before ducking into a tattoo parlor to call the police.

Stranger still was the spot he was in Saturday.

One day after closing with two tough pars to make the cut on the number, Couch took on gusty conditions for an 8-under 64, which left him atop the leaderboard after a wacky, wind-swept day at the Zurich Classic.

The PGA Tour did not have records of anyone going from worst-to-first in the third round.

“I’m not sure I would have believed it,” Couch said.

He finished at 12-under 204 and had a one-shot lead over Charles Howell III (66) and Joe Durant, the 36-hole leader was still warming up when Couch signed for his card.

Durant and the late starters got the brunt of gusts up to 30 mph and they paid for it. None of the final 16 players who teed off broke par, and Durant was happy to sneak in with a 73, a round that featured only five pars and a 25-foot birdie putt on the final hole.

“It was very difficult from the very first shot,” Durant said.

He had 115 yards to the first green and decided to hit a knockdown 7-iron. It never had a chance of reaching, and that’s about the time Durant knew he was in for a long day. Three straight bogeys were followed by three straight birdies. A gust knocked his wedge down and into the water. Then came the birdie on the last hole, to get into the final group.

Kim and Miyazato atop LPGA Ginn Open

REUNION, Fla. – They are among the shortest LPGA players, with Mi Hyun Kim at 5-foot-1 and Ai Miyazato a mere 1 inch taller.

A diminutive duo, they’re atop the Ginn Clubs & Resorts Open leaderboard heading into Sunday’s final round.

Kim shot a 3-under-par round of 69 on Saturday to get to 11-under for the tournament, three shots ahead of Miyazato – who was tied for the lead on the par-4 18th before making double bogey while Kim made birdie.

Christina Kim was alone in third place, five shots off the lead after three straight birdies closed her 69 on a windy day that made already slick greens even more daunting, adding to the challenge of a long course that most tour players hadn’t seen before this week and still haven’t quite figured out.

“It’s got a lot of strange little nuances that no one really knows because not a lot of people have played here a lot,” Christina Kim said. “The greens are what really kills us. It’s one of the longest courses we get all year, just over 6,500 yards long. And then you’ve got the wind. … This course, it can be a monster.”

Maybe so, but Mi Hyun Kim – who last won on the LPGA tour in 2002 – clearly enjoys the layout. The former LPGA rookie of the year made only one bogey Saturday and four birdies.

“I’m nervous every day, every day before when I tee off,” Mi Hyun Kim said. “But after I tee off, I forget about that.”

She made her last birdie on No. 18 while Miyazato, one of her playing partners, four-putted.

Fleisher leads Champions Tour event

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LAKEWAY, Texas – Bruce Fleisher aced the 177-yard third hole to counter two opening bogeys and finished with a 3-under 69 to take a one-stroke lead Saturday after the second round of the wind-swept FedEx Kinko’s Classic.

The 57-year-old Fleisher, winless since taking the 2004 Bruno’s Memorial Classic for his 18th Champions Tour, had a 7-under 137 total on The Hills course. He used a 5-iron for the hole-in-one on No. 3 and added birdies on Nos. 9, 12 and 17.

“That shot helped turned my round around because as hard as the wind was blowing, it was going the other way,” said Fleisher, who has four aces on the Champions Tour and one the PGA Tour. “When you hit it close, it’s skill. When it goes in, it’s lucky.”

He’s attempting to become the oldest winner this year.

“It’s tough out here with all these young kids coming up,” said Fleisher, who won seven times in 1999 and four in 2000.

Craig Stadler and senior newcomer David Edwards were tied for second after 70s, and Tom Kite (71) and Ireland’s Des Smyth (69) were another stroke back.

Edwards, a four-time winner on the PGA Tour, is making his first start on the 50-and-over tour after turning 50 on April 18.

“I’ve been pretty eager for this week to arrive,” Edwards said. “I’ve been playing pretty good and practicing good, but nothing beats being out here in competition.”

Griffiths takes control in Spanish Open

SAN ROQUE, Spain – David Griffiths of England shot a 6-under 66 Saturday for a two-stroke lead after the third round of the Spanish Open.

Swede Niclas Fasth (66) and countryman Robert Karlsson (68) are tied for second at 15-under 201.

Griffiths’ only bogey came at the short 17th. After pulling 5-iron into a bad lie on a downslope, he couldn’t get close.

Fasth made a birdie-eagle-birdie start on the way to his 66, but dropped shots at the sixth and ninth holes.

Karlsson, who had a course-record 63 in the second round, said he was counting of his experience for the final round.

“I have won twice in Spain, so I know how to manage this position,” Karlsson said.

“I have good memories of Spain.”

Thomas Bjorn of Denmark (68) and Graeme Storm of England (70) were three strokes behind the leader.

Colin Montgomerie, the European money title winner last season, had a 72 to tie for 20th place – nine strokes back.

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