- The Washington Times - Monday, September 7, 2009

NORTON, Mass. | Steve Stricker squeezed everything he could out of his final shot Sunday in the Deutsche Bank Championship, setting up an eagle that gave him a share of the lead in a tournament loaded with possibilities.

Stricker, who can overtake Tiger Woods atop the FedEx Cup standings with a victory, hit his hybrid to five feet on the par-5 18th for a 6-under 65. He was among a dozen players separated by three shots going into the Labor Day finish at TPC Boston.

O’Hair, who started the blustery third round tied for the lead, overcame a sluggish start with birdies on two of the last three holes for a 70. Goosen had a chance to take the outright lead until he failed to get up-and-down from a bunker on the 18th. He settled for a 68.

“I needed a day like this today to get back into it,” Stricker said.

Just about everyone else - except Woods - apparently had the same idea.

While the leaders were at 13-under 200, Woods struggled from the opening shot. He hit driver into the woods for a one-shot penalty, didn’t make a birdie until the 15th hole and shot 1-over 72. That left him nine shots behind in a tie for 30th. Woods did not speak to reporters, going to the locker room to have his back stretched.

The gallery still has a rooting favorite among those trying to win. Padraig Harrington, cheered wildly in a region with a large Irish population, knocked in a long birdie putt at the 18th for a 67 and was among those one shot behind with Scott Verplank (68) and Kevin Na (66).

“There’s a saying, ‘There’s 5 million people in Ireland and 40 million in the States,’ and I think those 40 million people live in Boston,” Harrington said. “There’s great support here. When you get people supporting you, you do feed off it and try to go with it, and it’s certainly helped me over the last three days.”

Jim Furyk, who had a share of the 36-hole lead with O’Hair, slumped to a 73 yet still was in the hunt. He was at 10-under 203.

No one stands out as the obvious favorite. All of them share one goal.

Pettersen dominates

PRIDDIS, Alberta | Suzann Pettersen closed with a 1-under 70 for a five-shot victory at the Canadian Women’s Open, her first LPGA Tour win in nearly two years.

The Norwegian star vowed not to play conservatively with a five-shot lead heading into the final round Sunday. She made good, keeping that margin over Momoko Ueda (65), Morgan Pressel (66), Ai Miyazato (67), Karrie Webb (69) and Angela Stanford (70).

“To finally close the deal again feels really good,” Pettersen said. “I remember what it feels like again.”

Sluman rallies

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. | Jeff Sluman overcame a six-stroke deficit at Pebble Beach to successfully defend his Walmart First Tee Open title, acing the fifth hole and finishing with a 4-under 68 for a two-stroke victory.

Sluman, who started the day tied for fifth after a second-round 73, had four birdies and the hole-in-one on the 187-yard fifth to finish at 10-under 206.

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