Lehman rolls back the years

 

Tom Lehman turned back the clock during a sizzling back nine to take a one shot lead after the third round of the Tampa Bay Championship. Lehman, who is seeking his first PGA Tour win in nine years, rattled off four consecutive birdies from the 12th to storm up the leaderboard.

The joint best round (68) of the day left the 1996 British Open champion on eight-under and a one stroke advantage over twice US Open winner and 2003 Tampa Bay champion Retief Goosen, who signed for two-under 69.

"I really enjoyed myself today," said Lehman, who had missed the cut in four-of-five starts this season coming into the Tampa Championship after a five-month injury layoff.

"The front nine was a comedy of errors but on the back nine things got going. I think you don't even realise that you make four birdies in a row. I certainly didn't even notice when I was out there playing."

Lurking two shots further was a group of four golfers led by Masters champion Trevor Immelman, who got his round off to a bright start with an eagle three at the par-five first on way to carding a 70 for the second straight day.

Joining the South African on five-under are Americans Charles Howell III (71) and Jonathan Byrd (71) and Australian Stuart Appleby, who closed his round with 13 straight pars for an even par 71.

"It's nice to start shooting some good scores again and, you know, great to have a chance tomorrow," Goosen told reporters.

"It's been a while since I've had a chance to win on the PGA Tour and hopefully tomorrow I can. It's going to be a tough day tomorrow.

"The course has really changed overnight...the greens have really gone dead. It's going to be really tricky out there tomorrow.

"I don't think anybody is really going to come and shoot a low score, so you're going to have to just play steady and try and hang in there."