PALM HARBOR, Fla. (AP) – K.J. Choi made a 10-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole to finish the third round of the Chrysler Championship the same way he started, with a one-shot lead over Ernie Els and two others.

But it sure felt like a lifetime of work to keep it that way.

In a blustery round in which six players had at least a share of the lead, Choi overcame a few hiccups on the Copperhead course at Innisbrook for a 1-under 70 that left him one shot clear of Els (70), Brian Gay (70) and resurgent Paul Goydos (69), who was No. 160 on the money list and now has a chance to avoid Q-school.

Choi never made more than three pars in a row, and that was on the back nine when he was trying to hang on. He was at 9-under 204 and will try to win this tournament for the second time in five years.

Els is in good shape to collect his first victory of the year, but it sure didn’t seem that way when he started losing ground. He recovered with birdies on the par 5s on the back nine. Gay was three shots behind until birdies on two of the tougher holes at Innisbrook, Nos. 16 and 17, and a good save from below the slope on the 18th green to get into the final group.

The biggest surprise was the tour’s hottest player, Troy Matteson. He started the day eight shots behind, was 5 under through his first five holes and wound up with a 64, leaving himself only two shots behind going into the final round.

The disappointment belonged to Jonathan Byrd, who had a one-shot lead at the turn until losing three shots on two holes and needing to make a 12-foot par putt to limit the damage. Byrd wound up with a 73 and was at 208, along Disney winner Joe Durant (67) and Jason Bohn (68), who is making a late bid to get into the Masters.

This is the final full-event of the year, with players trying to finish in the top 30 on the money list to get into the Tour Championship, the top 40 for the Masters, or the top 125 to get their card for the 2007 FedExCup competition that starts next year.

Charles Schwab Cup Championship

SONOMA, Calif. (AP) – Jim Thorpe stayed steady while the other contenders lurched up and down the leaderboard, finishing the third round of the Charles Schwab Cup Championship with a two-stroke lead over Jay Haas, Tom Kite and Loren Roberts.

Thorpe parlayed four straight birdies after the turn into a 5-under 67, leaving him two shots ahead of second-round leader Kite – as well as Haas and Roberts, the Champions Tour’s top two players throughout the season. All four contenders still are in prime position to claim the $440,000 first prize in the season-ending event.

Thorpe, the first-round leader and the 2003 champion in Sonoma, had a 13-under 203 total on the Sonoma Golf Club course.

Haas shot a 69, while Kite hung tough through an inconsistent round for a 70. Roberts, who trails Haas by just 126 points in the season-long Schwab Cup competition for a $1 million annuity, had a bogey-free 68, but missed several chances to challenge playing partner Thorpe atop the leaderboard.

Dubai Ladies Masters

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) – Annika Sorenstam shot her second straight 4-under 68 to increase her lead to seven strokes after the third round of the European Ladies Tour’s season-ending Dubai Ladies Masters.

The top-ranked Swede had a 15-under 201 total on the Emirates Golf Club’s Majlis Course. Australia’s Karrie Webb was second after a 70, and European Solheim Cup captain Helen Alfredsson of Sweden was 7 under after a 68.

France’s Gwladys Noceras, needing a victory to take the money title from English star Laura Davies, was 15 strokes back at even par after a 72. Davies is skipping the event to play in the LPGA Tour event in South Korea.

Kolon-Hana Bank Championship

GYEONGJU, South Korea (AP) – Jin Joo Hong, a South Korean playing in her first LPGA Tour event, shot a 5-under 67 to take a four-stroke after the second round of the Kolon-Hana Bank Championship.

Hong, who has won a tournament on the Korean tour, had six birdies and one bogey for a 9-under 135 total on the Mauna Ocean Golf Club course. South Korea’s Joo Mi Kim (73) was tied for second with amateur Mi Jung Hur (70) and France’s Karine Icher (71).

U.S. Solheim Cup star Paula Creamer (72) was five strokes back along with South Korea’s Jee Young Lee (73), Jeong Jang (72) and Norway’s Suzann Pettersen (71). Lee won the tournament last year at Nine Bridges in her first LPGA Tour start.

Volvo Masters

SOTOGRANDE, Spain (AP) – The race for the European money title is down to 18 holes, with England’s Paul Casey in the lead, but nine strokes behind India’s Jeev Milkha Singh after the third round of the season-ending Volvo Masters.

Singh shot a 3-under 68 for a 3-under 210 total on the Valderrama course. Spain’s Sergio Garcia (69), England’s Lee Westwood (72) and Swedes Henrik Stenson (73) and Johan Edfors (69) were tied for second at 2 under.

Ireland’s Padraig Harrington, No. 2 on the money list, No. 3 David Howell and No. 4 Robert Karlsson were all within four shots of Singh.

Casey, who entered the event with a $274,080 lead over Harrington for the money title, had a 71. Harrington (72) was 1 over and Howell (70) and Karlsson (70) were at even par. Karlsson must win the tournament to have any chance at the Harry Vardon trophy, while Harrington must finish in the first three and Howell in the top two for a chance at the money crown. Casey can make their task even harder by finishing no worse than 35th. In that case, Harrington would need a top-two finish and Howell a victory.

World Amateur Team Championship

STELLENBOSCH, South Africa (AP) – Will Besseling shot a 7-under 65 to help the Netherlands take a two-stroke lead over the United States, Canada and Wales after the third round of the World Amateur Team Championship.

Joost Luiten added a 70 to give the Netherlands a 15-under 417 total. Tim Sluiter shot a 75, with only the top two scores counting in the team total.

Chris Kirk and Trip Kuehne had 70s for the United States, the three-time defending Eisenhower Trophy champion and 13-time winner overall. Jonathan Moore shot a 72.

Wales tied a championship mark for any round with a 12-under 132. Rhys Davies had a 64, the best round of the week, and Nigel Edwards added a 68.

AP-ES-10-28-06 2025EDT

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