Weakened by back spasms and a stiff neck, Mark O'Meara wasn't sure he could finish his round yesterday. He not only finished, he also played some of his best golf at Wentworth in Virginia Water, England.
O'Meara shot a 9-under-par 63 on the first 18 holes of the World Match Play quarterfinals, and then held on to beat Australia's Craig Parry on the third playoff hole, his 39th hole of the day.
"It's just so hard to explain how ugly I felt over the ball," said O'Meara, the defending champion.
O'Meara was nearly bedridden on Wednesday. He hit a few practice shots on Thursday and gave up.
"I was just trying to strike the ball on the club face having no idea if I was going to get it aired up," O'Meara said. "I was just trying to hit the ball somewhere and advance it. . . . I didn't have a clue where the ball was going."
In the day's other quarterfinals, Nick Price ousted Retief Goosen, 6 and 5, and will face O'Meara in today's semifinals. Padraig Harrington beat three-time champion Ernie Els on the second playoff hole (38th) and plays Colin Montgomerie, who won, 2 and 1, over American Notah Begay III.
* PGA: Jim Furyk, who seems to thrive on the desert courses used in the Las Vegas Invitational, shot a 9-under 63 to go 22 under and grab a share of the third-round lead. A two-time winner and defending champion of the event, Furyk moved into a tie with Harrison Frazar and Bob May after three rounds of the five-day tournament.
Scores are traditionally low in the event, which has a pro-am format, and conditions have been ideal the first three days this year.
Furyk has won just one PGA event outside Las Vegas during his six years on the tour, in Hawaii in 1996.
Frazar, the second-round leader, shot a 67, and May, who lives in Las Vegas but has been playing in Europe, matched Furyk's 63.
* SENIORS: Australian David Graham had eight birdies and an eagle for a 9-under 63 and a three-stroke lead after the first round of the Raley's Gold Rush Classic in El Dorado Hills, Calif.
Graham, a winner of two PGA Tour majors who is finishing his fourth season on the Senior Tour, eagled No. 8 at Serrano Country Club and then had four birdies on the back nine.
Allen Doyle had birdies on six of the final 14 holes in a 66 that left him tied for second with J.C. Snead. Doyle is a four-time winner this season and is third on the senior money list.
Graham tied the tournament course record John Morgan set last year in the second round.
* LPGA: Maria Hjorth had a hole-in-one in a tournament- and course-record 64 to overtake Karrie Webb for the lead after two rounds of the LPGA Tournament of Champions in Mobile, Ala.
Hjorth tied her career best with the round of 8 under that included two eagles and six birdies. Her 36-hole total of 9-under 135 was three strokes ahead of Cindy Figg-Currier, who remained second with a 71.
Webb, the first-round leader, shot a 74 and fell to 140, tied for third with Laura Davies, who had a 68.
CAPTION: David Graham tips his cap after a first-round 9-under 63 gave him the lead at the Gold Rush Classic.