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Rain, birdies fall at suspended Firestone

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Kenny Perry reacts to the stoppage of play for the second time at the NEC Invitational.

Kenny Perry reacts to the stoppage of play for the second time at the NEC Invitational.

Mark Duncan, Associated Press

Kenny Perry was frustrated how his long day at the NEC Invitational ended Saturday in Akron, Ohio.

Clearly, it had nothing to do with his golf.

Perry made seven birdies, two of them from off the green, to catch up to Tiger Woods for a share of the lead when storms finally suspended the on-again, off-again third round at Firestone. All he has left is a 10-foot birdie putt for a 63 that might put him in the lead.

How was his day?

"Pretty frustrating," he said. "The day was great. The ending was not."

Woods was through 15 holes and tied with Perry at 7 under after making his only bogey of the round. They are among 20 players who failed to finish the third round after spending at least 10 hours at Firestone.

First, storms suspended play for 3 hours, 11 minutes. After trudging back into position, play was stopped again after 16 minutes. Players waited around for two hours before being sent home.

"No one is really happy right now," Woods said.

Woods had a two-shot lead through 14 holes when the first stoppage occurred. He was back on the course long enough to hit three full shots — none of them good — and wound up tied when he left the course.

The third round was to resume at 7:30 a.m., with the leaders teeing off in the final round at 2:40 p.m.

Paul McGinley of Ireland was another shot back through 15 holes, while Stuart Appleby reached the 667-yard 16th hole in two shots for the second time this week and was 5 under through 16 holes. Two-time Masters champion Jose Maria Olazabal finished his round with a 66 and was the clubhouse leader at 4-under 206.

Woods returned after the first delay to face a delicate flop shot from left of the par-3 15th green. He hit it 10 feet past the hole, hit par putt caught the right lip and he walked off the green cursing beneath his breath.

He followed that with a drive into deep rough to the left of the 16th fairway.

"I didn't really put myself in very good shape on 16, so hopefully I can escape with a par there and make something happen the last couple of holes," he said.

The start was no problem.

Woods ended his second round with a double bogey to slip into a tie for the lead with Luke Donald, and was in trouble on the opening hole with a 2-iron off the tee and into a bunker. But Woods saved par with a 6-foot putt, then quickly seized control with a good break and some good putting.

A tee shot headed for the left rough on the par-5 second bounced off a cart path and back to a fairway, leaving him only a 7-iron into 12 feet for a two-putt birdie. He hit wedge into 6 feet for a birdie on the third, and a 9-iron into 12 feet for a birdie on the 465-yard fourth hole.

He led by as many as three shots at one point, and kept his cushion with an unlikely par on the 11th. His ball buried in deep grass just off the 11th fairway, Woods could only advance it 60 yards into more rough, blocked by a tree, with the pin tucked behind a bunker. He pitched it through the branches to 25 feet and made it to keep his momentum.

Then came the weather delays, and plenty of complaints.

Perry was repairing his pitch mark on the 18th green when the siren sounded a second time, and he has been on the PGA Tour long enough to know what was coming — waiting around for a few hours, setting the alarm clock early to be back on the course.

John Daly, who was at 1 under and also on the 18th green, got into a heated discussion with rules official Mike Shea. Thomas Bjorn, at 3 under in the final group, tossed his towel to the ground.

"You've still got to get spectators off and get them safe. I understand that," Perry said. "I'm not a weatherman. If they thought it was close, I'd rather be safe than sorry."

Perry still had enough time to deliver some entertainment.

He was trying to escape with par after hitting into the trees on the ninth hole, and it turned out even better when he holed a 50-foot putt for birdie from just off the green. He went from despair to delight on the 16th hole, where his sand wedge flew into the cup, popped out and went 25 feet away just off the green. He wound up making that one for birdie, anyway.

It was the third time in the last two weeks Perry has hit the flag. His shot on the 17th at Baltusrol in the first round spun in the cup for eagle, and he hit the cup and flew out on the 10th hole in the final round of the PGA Championship. That one spun off the green.

"Kind of ironic how it's been going," Perry said.

The only thing that didn't surprise him was hearing a siren and knowing there would be an early wake-up call.

LPGA: At Portland, Ore., South Korea's Soo-Yun Kang moved into position for her first victory in three full seasons on the LPGA Tour, shooting a 4-under 68 to take a three-stroke lead into the final round of the Safeway Classic.

Kang, a co-leader with Sung Ah Yim after a first-round 64, had a 12-under 132 total. Gloria Park and British Open winner Jeong Jang were 9 under.

Park also had a second-round 68 despite tendinitis and tennis elbow. With a 25-foot putt, Jang birdied her final hole, the par-4 ninth, to also finish with a 68.

RENO-TAHOE OPEN: At Reno, Nev., defending champion Vaughn Taylor opened a six-stroke lead in the Reno-Tahoe Open, birdieing four of his first five holes en route to an 8-under 64 and a tournament-record 21-under 195 total.

Taylor, who opened with rounds of 64 and 67 to set the 36-hole record, shattered the 54-hole mark of 201 that Jerry Kelly set in 2001 and moved into position to break the 72-hole record of 17 under set by Kirk Triplett in his 2003 victory.

The second-year player on the PGA Tour had eight birdies on Saturday at Montreux Golf and Country Club to bring his total to 24 over three days.

Todd Fischer, playing in his hometown, was second at 15 under after 69. He birdied the last five holes to overcome three early bogeys.

Jesper Parnevik (67) was another stroke back after chipping in from 40 feet for eagle on the par-5 17th. Aaron Baddeley (66), Jonathan Kaye (68) and Fredrik Jacobson (68) followed at 13 under.

CHAMPIONS TOUR: At Snoqualmie, Wash., former PGA Tour and USGA administrator David Eger shot an 8-under 64 for a share of the second-round lead with Craig Stadler and Morris Hatalsky in the Boeing Greater Seattle Classic.

The leaders were at 12 under for the tournament, two strokes ahead of Brad Bryant, James Mason and John Harris. Tom Kite, Jim Thorpe, D.A. Weibring and Don Pooley were 9 under, easily within striking distance going into the final round.

Eger, who earned a spot on the Champions Tour through qualifying school three years ago, hit an excellent approach on the 18th from 219 yards within 5 feet, setting up an eagle that got him to 12 under and briefly gave him the outright lead.

Hatalsky, who began the day in a four-way tie atop the leaderboard, missed a chance to grab the second-round lead outright when his 6-foot birdie attempt on the 18th green lipped just under the cup. He finish with his second straight 66.

Stadler, meanwhile, birdied the 18th for his eight birdie on the day and a second-day 65 after starting one stroke behind four leaders at 5 under. Pooley also shot a 64, tying Eger for the tournament's lowest round so far.