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Last Updated: Saturday, 2 October, 2004, 17:25 GMT 18:25 UK
Els stays out in front
ROUND THREE LEADERBOARD
Ernie Els in action in Ireland
-15 E Els (SA)
-13 T Bjorn (Den)
-12 D Howells (GB), P Harrington (Ire), Todd Hamilton (USA)
Ernie Els maintained his two-shot lead at the WGC Championship in Ireland after a solid third round of 68.

The South African moved to 15 under par ahead of Dane Thomas Bjorn with Padraig Harrington, David Howell and Open champion Todd Hamilton tied in third.

Els completed his round with a birdie at the 17th and a par at the last to stay on track at Mount Juliet.

If the South African wins, Tiger Woods, who is back in joint eighth, will slip to third in the world rankings.

Els will take over the American's second spot just a month after Fiji's Vijay Singh ended Woods' five-year reign as world number one.

The 35-year-old, seeking his first title since winning the Memorial tournament in American in June, had to battle against soggy conditions in Ireland.

But he still managed to collect five birdies and dropped just a single shot, even when his playing partner Miguel Jimenez fell foul of the 18th.

A world title and a tour event in Ireland is a big deal but the odds are stacked against me
Padraig Harrington
The Spaniard slipped down to 14th spot from his overnight position of joint second after finding the lake and double-bogeyed for a round of 75.

Darren Clarke posted the lowest round of the day, grabbing eight birdies for a 65 to move up to joint eighth.

"I haven't felt great all week but I went out, holed some putts, gained momentum early and kept going," said Clarke, who has been hit by flu since the Ryder Cup.

"Those were tough conditions out there and the wind was picking up all day."

Clarke sits alongside Woods in eighth spot after the American defending champion returned a second successive 70 to lie seven shots off the pace.

But Harrington is just three shots behind and has set his sights on winning his first world title on home soil.

"It's obviously a big deal," he said. "A world championship and a tour event in Ireland.

"But the odds will be stacked against me."

There is also the small matter of the weather as more gales and rain are forecast for Sunday's final round.

Organisers plan to bring forward the tee-off times and play could even spill over into Monday.




SEE ALSO
Els captures two-shot lead
01 Oct 04  |  Golf
Woods to battle on
30 Sep 04  |  Golf
New venue for WGC event
03 Oct 04  |  Golf


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