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Optimistic Johnson Takes Lead

From the Associated Press

Zach Johnson kept his head up and waited for things to get better, as he knew they would.

Even though he missed four short birdie putts and bogeyed one of the five holes he had to play at dawn Saturday to complete his rain-delayed second round, Johnson had an inkling this was going to be his day at the International.

Sure enough, he birdied five holes and eagled another for a 15-point third round and the 54-hole lead at Castle Rock, Colo.

“I had a makable birdie putt on 5, 6, 7 and 8 and then I actually made a good bogey on 9,” Johnson said.

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And the optimistic 30-year-old player went to the clubhouse at Castle Pines feeling good about his game instead of lamenting his lost opportunities.

That positive attitude paid off for Johnson, whose 27 points entering today are one more than Steve Flesch and two more than Stewart Cink and Ian Leggatt. Ryder Cup captain Tom Lehman is three points behind in fifth place.

But this isn’t like stroke play. Big changes are the norm at the International, the only stop on the PGA Tour that uses the special scoring system that awards five points for eagles, two for birdies, nothing for pars and deducts one for bogeys and three for double bogeys or worse.

So, mathematically, just about all of the 33 remaining golfers have a shot at the $990,000 winner’s check.

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“The point system kind of keeps it real going into the last day,” Flesch said.

Lehman, who is 29th in the Ryder Cup standings, would move to seventh with a victory. He shied away from questions about what he’d do if he played himself onto the Ryder Cup team.

“If I were to win tomorrow and I’d make the team,” he said, pausing, “I don’t know what I’d do.”

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Angela Stanford moved a step closer to a second LPGA Tour victory, shooting a three-under 69 to take a four-stroke lead after the third round of the Canadian Women’s Open.

Stanford, the 28-year-old Texan whose only victory came in the 2003 Shoprite Classic, had a 13-under 203 total on the London Hunt and Country Club course.

Defending champion Meena Lee was second after a 66, the best round of the day in warm, calm conditions on the tree-lined course. Jee Young Lee (71) was another stroke back at eight under, and Pat Hurst (67) followed at six under.

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Katharina Schallenberg, a 26-year-old former bank clerk from Germany, will play 14-year-old Kimberly Kim of Hawaii for the U.S. Women’s Amateur title at North Plains, Ore.

Kim, the youngest player to reach the final match, defeated 15-year-old Lindy Duncan of Plantation, Fla., 1-up in Saturday’s semifinals at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club.

Schallenberg defeated 21-year old Texan Stacy Lewis with a four-foot putt for par on the 19th hole on the 6,380-yard, par-71 Witch Hollow Course.

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Annika Sorenstam and Lorena Ochoa shot four-under 69s to share the third-round lead at the Scandinavian TPC in Stockholm. They were at 13-under 206 heading into the final round at the Bro-Balsta course, where Sorenstam began playing golf at age 12.


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