Sauers keeps PGA Championship lead, eyes wire-to-wire victory Leads MNaggert, Price by 2 after 3rd round


ST. LOUIS -- The third round of a golf tournament is traditionally a day of positioning. Some players move up. Some fall back, especially when the pressure of winning a major event builds.

So it was yesterday at Bellerive Country Club, as the PGA Championship leaders leap frogged, fell back and tried to gain the most advantageous spot for today's final round. But at the top, nothing changed, thanks to one clutch putt.

You want a champion? Take your pick. There's Gene Sauers, who was supposed to wilt under the pressure but turned in a steady 1-under-par 70 for a 7-under-par 206 and a two-stroke lead over Jeff Maggert and Nick Price.

Then there's Maggert, a 28-year-old Texan who started the day seven shots back but put together a course-record 65, including back nine of 31 as he birdied the last three holes.

Price is another threat. After a slow start in which he was 2-over after six holes, Price was right the rest of the day as he put together birdies on the ninth through 12th, perhaps the toughest stretch on the course. Price, a 35-year-old South African, added another birdie on 17 in his round of 68.

Ten players stand within seven shots of the lead, so the finish figures to be unpredictable. Contenders include former champion Ray Floyd (69213) and British Open winner Nick Faldo, who collapsed with an uncharacteristic poor round (76214) but still has a chance. So does Billy Andrade, who had a down-and-up round of 38-3270 for a 213 total.

The consensus was that Faldo, two shots back when the round began, would make a move. He did -- backward. Faldo never sustained a stretch of good golf. Even his pars were struggles.

The collapse came on the last five holes when Faldo went from 2-under to 1-over, missing greens and fairways. "I just lost it. I don't know," said Faldo.

Asked about his chances today, he shrugged. "It will be a hard day," he said. "It's not impossible, so I just have to find out what I'm doing wrong."

Price, who withdrew from last year's PGA at the last minute (allowing eventual winner John Daly to enter) because his wife was expecting a baby, is hungry for his first major championship after two British Open runner-up finishes.

His run of birdies, including a spectacular 105-foot putt from off the fringe on the 404-yard 12th hole, highlighted a memorable afternoon.

"After those bogeys," said Price, "I kind of gathered myself together."

Price appears to be in the best position to catch Sauers, considering his experience in majors, but he doesn't think it will be easy.

"We're going to have to beat Gene," said Price. "He's a solid player with a big heart. I don't think he's going to give anything away."

So far, Sauers hasn't. But if he does falter, plenty of candidates are in position to catch him.

PGA Championship


The leader . . .

Gene Sauers .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. . 67-69-70-206

. . . and selected followers

Nick Price .. .. .. .... .. .. .. .. .. 70-70-68-208

Jeff Maggert .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 71-72-65-208

John Cook .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. . 71-72-67-210

Jim Gallagher Jr. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. . 72-66-72-210

Ray Floyd .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. . 69-75-69-213

Paul Azinger .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. . 72-73-68-213

Gil Morgan .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 71-69-73-213

Craig Stadler .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 67-72-75-214

Nick Faldo .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ... 68-70-76-214

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