October 10, 2008

The Price Is Right

With nine Top-10 finishes this year Nick Price is ready to win. His second consecutive 66 gave him a one-stroke lead with an eight-under 202 total after 54 holes

After hitting almost 74% of his fairways, Price has gone 36 holes without a bogey.

After hitting almost 74% of his fairways, Price has gone 36 holes without a bogey.

TIMONIUM, Md. (AP) -- Nick Price moved into position for his first win on the Champions Tour, shooting a bogey-free 66 Saturday to take a one-shot lead over D.A. Weibring after three rounds of the Senior Players Championship.

Starting the day in a fifth-place tie, Price moved up the leaderboard with birdies on three of the first five holes. He then peeled off 11 straight pars before sinking a 13-foot birdie putt on 17.

The 51-year-old Price barely missed a 23-foot birdie putt on 18, then tapped in to close at 8-under 202.

Price earned more than $20 million on the PGA Tour and won two Player of the Year awards, but he has yet to cash a winner's check in 30 tournaments on the 50-and-over circuit.

That could change Sunday in the Champion Tour's last major of the year.

It probably won't be easy -- eight players will enter the final round within four shots of the lead.

Weibring made five birdies in shooting a 66. Jeff Sluman (64) and Gene Jones (69) were at 6 under; Eduardo Romero (67) was alone at 5 under; and Jay Haas (69) and Fred Funk (72) were among four players at 4 under.

Sluman had the best round of the week. He eagled the 362-yard, par-4 sixth hole, made four birdies, hit 13 of 14 fairways and didn't have a bogey.

Jones started the back nine with two straight birdies to move into first place, but he fell into a second-place tie by three-putting on No. 12 for a bogey. He fell farther back when he missed a twisting par putt on 13, and he also bogeyed 18.

Funk, the hometown favorite, led for much of the round before stumbling under the weight of three successive bogeys on Nos. 13-15.

Second-round leader Ben Crenshaw bogeyed two of the first three holes and finished with a 74 to fall well off the pace at 3 under. Crenshaw made only one birdie in his bid to earn his first tournament title since capturing the Masters for a second time in 1995.

He struggled from the outset, hitting his first shot to the left of the fairway. His approach then rolled off the green, and he had to settle for a bogey.

After getting a par on the 157-yard second hole, Crenshaw again missed the fairway to the left and ended up with a bogey. That gave him two bogeys on three holes -- double the number he had in the entire second round, when he missed the fairway only twice.

Funk was born in Maryland, earned his degree at the University of Maryland and served as the school's golf coach from 1982-88. Introduced on the first hole as hailing from College Park, he received a loud round of applause. He waved to the crowd, stepped to the tee and pulled back after the host finally finished his sentence by saying, "Fred Funk."

Funk laughed, then promptly gained a share of the lead with a par on the 427-yard hole. He was alone in first place after parring No. 3 -- a hole that Crenshaw and Jones both bogeyed.

But after going 12 holes without a bogey, he played the final six holes at 4 over.