Golf-Swede Chopra stretches four ahead at sodden Tesoro

MIAMI, Oct 28 (Reuters) Fast-starting Swede Daniel Chopra headed for his maiden PGA Tour victory after moving four shots clear midway through the rain-delayed fourth round of the Ginn sur Mer Classic at Port St. Lucie, Florida today.

Two ahead when the third round was completed at a sodden Tesoro Club earlier in the day, Chopra birdied the first three holes before reaching the turn in three-under 34.

That left the Stockholm native at 20 under overall in the Tour's penultimate event of the season with Japan's Shigeki Maruyama alone in second place, also after nine holes.

Sweden's Fredrik Jacobson, level with Maruyama going into the final round, was a further stroke back at 15 under in a tie for third with American Sean O'Hair. Both had nine holes to play.

Chopra, who has played the PGA Tour full-time since 2004, made an ideal start after coming under early pressure from Maruyama.

With the rain-softened greens receptive to approach shots, Maruyama set up birdies on the first three holes before the Swede followed suit to maintain his grip on the tournament.

The globe-trotting Chopra, born to a Swedish mother and Indian father, sank birdie putts from four, 10 and nine feet to stretch his lead to three.

SLIPPED BACK Although he slipped back with his first bogey of the round at the par-four fifth after missing the green to the right with his approach, Maruyama also stumbled with a three-putt bogey at the eighth.

Chopra parred the next three holes before a superb approach to within three feet of the flag at the ninth and the tap-in putt for birdie put him four ahead of the chasing pack.

Each of the first three rounds has spilled over into the following day at rain-swept Tesoro and the tournament is heading for a Monday finish.

For the fourth day in a row, players have been allowed to lift, clean and replace golf balls on the fairways because of the wet, muddy conditions.


Story first published: Monday, October 29, 2007, 3:02 [IST]
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