Vijay Singh quickly turned a showdown between the world's top two golfers into a rout.
Singh started the third round of the Buick Open in Grand Blanc, Mich., one stroke ahead of Tiger Woods, then birdied the first three holes while Woods bogeyed Nos. 2-4. Singh matched the tournament record of 7 under par on the front nine and closed with a 63 yesterday, matching the event's 54-hole record of 22-under par 194.
If Singh holds on to his five-shot lead he'll be the first three-time champion at the Buick Open, a tournament that started in 1958, and the first champion to repeat since Tony Lema in 1965.
As great as Singh's round was, it could've been better if his putting was more consistent. He missed short putts for birdie at Nos. 7 and 14 and another for par at the 16th. It still was good enough to tie Kenny Perry's 54-hole tournament record set in 2001.
If Singh shoots 67 or better today, he will break Robert Wrenn's tournament mark of 26 under, set in 1987.
"If I break the record, that would be great. If I don't, I don't care," he said. "I just want to win the golf tournament."
Woods is the top-ranked player in the world, and Singh is No. 2. They have alternated positions atop the world ranking for nearly a year.
Zach Johnson (65) is at 17 under, alone in second place. Johnson won a tournament last year as a 28-year-old rookie and he is 42nd on the money list this year with three top-10 finishes. Chris DiMarco (66) will begin today's final round six shots back.
* U.S. SENIOR OPEN: Craig Stadler's spectacular bunker shot on the final hole led to a birdie, which moved him into a tie for the lead with Loren Roberts after three rounds of the U.S. Senior Open in Kettering, Ohio.
Stadler pulled his drive into the left fairway bunker on the dogleg par 4, but was able to muscle a 7-iron shot out of the sand from 153 yards that landed four feet from the pin. He made the birdie putt to cap a 2-under 69.
Roberts also shot 69 to share the top spot at 11-under 202. The co-leaders were three shots clear of the field, with Raymond Floyd -- winner of the last major event at NCR Country Club, the 1969 PGA Championship -- at 205 along with D.A. Weibring.
After starting the day tied for the lead, Tom Watson sagged to a 73 that left him four shots back at 202 along with Des Smyth, whom Watson beat in a playoff last weekend to win the Senior British Open.
Greg Norman, also playing in his second Champions Tour event, had a 69 that left him at 207.
Pat Tallent, an amateur from Vienna, shot 74, which left him tied for 42nd at 217.
* LPGA TOUR: Jeong Jang shot a 3-under 69 to stretch her lead at the Women's British Open in Southport, England, to five strokes, while Annika Sorenstam grabbed a share of second place with a third-round 66.
Jang, seeking her first victory in her sixth season on the LPGA Tour, is 13-under 203 at the Royal Birkdale links, the best score through 54 holes since the tournament became a major five years ago. Sorenstam and Cristie Kerr (69) were both at 8-under 208.
Among the five players at 7-under 209 is 15-year-old Michelle Wie, playing her last tournament before she returns to high school. She posted her second 67 in a row after opening with a 75 in the wind and rain Thursday.
Level with Wie are Paula Creamer, the winner of last week's Evian Masters who had seven birdies in a flawless 65, Liselotte Neumann (68), 2000 British Open champion Sophie Gustafson (67) and Young Kim (67).