CROMWELL, Conn. – Bogey-free and four strokes in front after 36 holes at the Buick Championship, Justin Rose went over par on No. 37. He kept his poise, though, and was still one stroke in front Saturday after three rounds.

Rose missed a 14-foot par putt on the opening hole and scrambled all day for an even par 70 that had him at 12-under 198. It was just enough to hold off Ben Curtis, his playing partner and friend.

Curtis, the 2003 British Open champion, shot a 3-under 67. His only mistake was driving into the water on No. 17, costing him a share of the lead.

“We’ve both worked hard on our games this year and it’s starting to pay off,” Rose said. “It was nice playing with him today.”

Curtis, the first-round co-leader, is winless since that British Open. He began to turn around his game last month when he finished third at the Western Open and then contended early at the PGA Championship with a first-round 67 at Baltusrol for a share of the lead.

Four golfers, including Corey Pavin (67), who got within two strokes of the lead midway through his round, were at 202. That group also included defending champion Woody Austin (65), Jerry Kelly (67) and Tjaart van der Walt (68).

Rose, who has four international wins, is looking for his first victory since joining the PGA Tour last year. This is the first time on tour he led after 54 holes.

Darren Stiles began the day at even par and made the biggest jump, shooting a 7-under 63 and was five strokes back.

Curtis and Rose were paired at last year’s Memorial. On Saturday, they dueled down the stretch.

Curtis caught him on No. 14 when Rose bogeyed the 421-yard par-4. But Curtis’ shot into the water on the course’s signature hole cost him. After a drop, he landed his approach 22 feet from the pin and two-putted for bogey.

Rose made it interesting a few seconds later on the same hole when his approach dropped into the lakeside fringe. He chipped up to about 10 feet and rolled it in for par.

Donald leads by a stroke at BMW Open

NORD-EICHENRIED, Germany – Luke Donald shot a 5-under 67 Saturday to lead the BMW International Open by a stroke after three rounds Saturday while John Daly finished with a 65 that left him three behind.

Donald, bidding for his first title in a year, eagled the ninth hole and made a 10-foot putt on his final hole for a total of 17-under 199.

“I kept patient, kept telling myself you need one good hole to get it started,” Donald said. “Obviously, that was the ninth.”

David Howell was at 200 after a 66 on a flat course that is one of the easiest on the European tour. Simon Khan (68), Soren Kjeldsen (65) and Brett Rumford (69) were at 201.

Daly, the tournament winner in 2001, was at 202 with Richard Gonzalez (68). On the 16th hole, Daly made par despite hitting a tee shot that knocked the wind out of a spectator.

“I hit an older gentleman right in the chest and got a good break when it bounced back toward the green, and I had a pretty easy chip,” Daly said. “Thankfully he’s OK. I gave him my ball and said thanks for the lucky break.”

Creamer’s 66 gives her one-shot lead at Wendy’s

DUBLIN, Ohio – Despite closing with two bogeys, Paula Creamer moved closer to clinching LPGA rookie of the year honors by shooting a 6-under 66 Saturday to take a one-stroke lead after three rounds at the Wendy’s Championship for Children.

Creamer, who won the Sybase and Evian tournaments earlier this year, can lock up the rookie title with a win. That would give her an insurmountable lead over Meena Lee in the points standings that determine the award.

The 19-year-old was at 16-under 200 after three rounds at Tartan Fields Golf Club, one shot in front of Cristie Kerr and Soo-Yun Kang. Kerr matched Creamer’s 66, while Kang shot a 69.

Creamer began the day two shots behind co-leaders Kang and defending champion Catriona Matthew. She took the lead with birdies on her first three holes.

She added birdies at Nos. 7, 11 and 12 to build a two-stroke lead.

She added another birdie at the 16th, then encountered problems down the stretch.

She overshot the green on the par-3 17th, chipped back and missed a 12-footer for par. At the par-4 18th, her second shot was on the green but on the bottom tier. Her first putt came up 4 feet short and she missed the par putt.

Dougherty, Molinari advance to Amateur final

ARDMORE, Pa. – Bobby Jones and Ben Hogan hit memorable shots at historic Merion Golf Club. Dillon Dougherty may have outdone them both.

Dougherty chipped in for birdie at the 17th hole and hit the flagstick at the last, the ball stopping close enough for a gimmie par.

He beat Canada’s J.C. Deacon 1-up Saturday to advance to the final of the U.S. Amateur.

The Northwestern senior will meet Italy’s Edoardo Molinari, a 2 and 1 semifinal winner over Austin Eaton III, in Sunday’s 36-hole match play final.

Dougherty and Molinari will receive invitations to next year’s Masters and U.S. Open. Sunday’s winner also advances to the 2006 British Open.

“That’s incredible,” Dougherty said. “Since I was a little kid I’ve dreamed of going to Augusta.”

Molinari will delay plans to go to qualifying school.

“I think the Masters is the tournament everyone wants to play,” he said.


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