Rich Beem knew he was on a roll when a 25-foot birdie putt looked like a tap-in. When he finished his round of 9-under-par 63, he was atop the leader board at the Funai Classic at Disney in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., and bracing for a wild ending that golfers at the tournament come to expect.
Tiger Woods, needing two birdies to avoid missing the cut for the second time this year, instead went bogey-par to fall three shots short of the cut and join Vijay Singh on the sideline.
"I played terrible this week," Woods said. "I hit it all over the map -- irons, woods, everything."
Woods and Singh left the birdies to everyone else, and those came in bunches on a steamy, sticky afternoon that was cut short when storms moved into the area and suspended the third round with 25 players still on the course. They will have to return this morning.
Mark Calcavecchia is one shot behind at 18-under 198. He was joined by Mark Wilson, who nearly made an ace on the par-3 15th and shot a career-best 63 to renew his hopes of avoiding qualifying school.
Beem was at 19-under 197 and wondering if bad weather brings out the best in him. The former PGA champion came close to winning one other time this year, losing in a five-man playoff at the rain-delayed BellSouth Classic.
"My best finishes this year have been rain delays," Beem said. "I'm just hoping that Mother Nature is a real ornery [woman] tonight." . . .
Dana Quigley shot a 7-under 64 to take a one-stroke lead over Mark James going to the final round of the SBC Championship at Oak Hills Country Club in San Antonio.
* TENNIS: Top-seeded Rafael Nadal reached his first Madrid Masters final, edging Robby Ginepri, 7-5, 7-6 (7-1). In today's final, Nadal will play eighth-seeded Ivan Ljubicic of Croatia, a 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 winner over Argentina's David Nalbandian.
The 19-year-old Spaniard won his ATP-leading 78th match this year, passing the injured Roger Federer. Nadal is chasing his 11th ATP Tour title of the season.
"My knee is hurting a bit," Nadal said. "I hope it's nothing." . . .
Top-seeded Lindsay Davenport routed Anastasia Myskina, 6-0, 6-4, to reach the Zurich Open final, where she will face Swiss star Patty Schnyder and try to win this tournament a fourth time.
Schnyder won her semifinal by beating 17-year-old Ana Ivanovic of Serbia and Montenegro, 6-2, 6-1. Schnyder defeated Davenport in the 2002 Zurich final.
* BASEBALL: DeMarlo Hale was hired as the Red Sox' third base coach after coaching first base for the Texas Rangers the last four seasons. Hale replaces Dale Sveum, who coached third for Boston the last two seasons, the team said. The Milwaukee Brewers hired Sveum for the same position Wednesday.
-- From News Services