Mickelson holds lead heading into final day

SUN MEDIA NEWS SERVICE

, Last Updated: 7:36 AM ET

Phil Mickelson fended off a strong challenge from fellow American Jeff Quinney to squeeze out a one-shot lead after yesterday's third round of the Northern Trust Open.

Four strokes ahead of the field overnight, Mickelson fired a one-under-par 70 in firm, fast conditions at Riviera Country Club to post an 11-under total of 202.

Former U.S. amateur champion Quinney joined Mickelson at the top of the leaderboard with an ace at the par-three sixth before slipping back into second place with a 67.

American John Rollins was a further four shots adrift at six under after shooting a six-birdie 69 on a breezy, sun-drenched day.

"It was more difficult because the pin placements were a little tougher and the greens were a little firmer so it was harder to get it close," Mickelson told reporters after carding three birdies and two bogeys.

"Anything in the sixties was going to be a good round and I was close to doing that. I played very well and certainly Jeff Quinney played very well."

The American world number two, in pursuit of his 33rd PGA Tour title but his first at Riviera, made a faltering start when he three-putted for bogey at the par-three fourth.

His playing partner Quinney had birdied the first and fifth, where he rolled in a 21-footer, and briefly snatched the outright lead with his spectacular ace from 163 yards at the sixth.

His seven-iron tee shot pitched on the raised back portion of the green before his ball rolled down the slope and dropped into the cup.

SORENSTAM WINS OPENER

Annika Sorenstam won the season-opening SBS Open for her 70th LPGA Tour title and first since September 2006, birdieing two of the last three holes Saturday for a 3-under 69 and two-stroke victory.

The 37-year-old coming off an injury-shortened season where she failed to win last year, finished with a 10-under 206 total.

It also was her second straight win in Hawaii.

Rookie Russy Gulyanamitta (68), Laura Diaz (70) and Jane Park (70) tied for second. Angela Park (69), and Japanese rookie Momoko Ueda (71) tied for fifth.

RECORD FOR CHRISTOPHER

Tyler Christopher opened his indoor 400-metre career yesterday with a Canadian record and a world-best time.

The sprinter from Chilliwack, B.C., shattered the Canadian indoor mark in the men's 400 metres at the Norwich Union Grand Prix meet, running 45.80 seconds for the fastest time in the world this year.

"This is the type of fitness I am in at the moment," said Christopher, who took the lead at 200 metres and held on to win.

Christopher lowered the previous mark of 46.73 set by Mark Jackson in Indianapolis on March 11, 1995.

The race was Christopher's first over 400 metres indoors.

VALUEV EARNS SHOT

Nikolai Valuev earned a chance at the WBA heavyweight title yesterday by beating Sergei Liakhovich of Belarus in a one-sided decision between former champions.

The seven-foot Russian, in one of his best performances, effectively used his left jab from the opening seconds to subdue the smaller fighter in the WBA eliminator bout.

Valuev, who improved to 48-1, won 120-108 on two of the judges' scorecards and 120-107 on the other to earn a rematch against Ruslan Chagaev, the first to beat the Russian as a pro and who took away his WBA belt in April.

BIBBY A HAWK

The Atlanta Hawks are trying balance out their backcourt and make a playoff push by bringing in Mike Bibby.

Hawks coach Mike Woodson said Bibby, acquired from the Sacramento Kings for four players on yesterday, will provide scoring help for Joe Johnson. Atlanta's all-star shooting guard often faces gimmick defences because he's the team's only outside shooting threat.

Bibby has averaged 16.7 points for his career and is making more than 36 per cent of his three-point shots for the ninth straight year.

The Hawks sent starting point guard Anthony Johnson, 2007 first-round pick Shelden Williams, backup point guard Tyronn Lue, veteran forward Lorenzen Wright and a 2008 second-round pick to the Kings.

CLEMENS JERSEY REMOVED

Roger Clemens' jersey was tossed from the Yogi Berra Museum.

Museum director David Kaplan said yesterday the museum had removed Clemens' jersey last week from a display honouring the Yankees teams of the late 1990s that won four World Series championships in five years.

Kaplan said the decision to remove the jersey was not made to generate publicity, but was done in response to allegations of steroid use by Clemens that resulted in Wednesday's congressional hearing where the seven-time Cy Young Award winner testified.

The Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center, which opened in 1998, offers several educational programs for youths including one that focuses on sports medicine and nutrition and examines the use of performance-enhancing drugs. Clemens' jersey had been displayed alongside Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera. Clemens was a member of the 1999 and 2000 Yankees championship teams.

STRIPPER STANDS BY PICS

A former stripper who says she photographed boxer Oscar De La Hoya in racy women's undergarments showed up at court to confront the former champion, only to learn he wasn't there.

Milana Dravnel filed the lawsuit last year, contending De la Hoya defamed her character and caused her emotional distress by claiming the photos were phony.

Photos of De La Hoya in a fishnet bodysuit and a woman's wig appeared on the front page of the New York Post yesterday.

De La Hoya, 35, won titles in five weight classes and is 38-5 in a pro career that began after he won a gold medal at the 1992 Olympics.

RAPTOR WINS SHOOTOUT

Toronto Raptors sharp-shooter Jason Kapono captured the three-point shootout on NBA All-Star Saturday Night.

Kapono, who won the event last year when he was with the Miami Heat, easily beat the rest of the field, scoring 25 points to win for the second straight year and tie Craig Hodges' all-time record, set in 1986.

Cleveland's Daniel Gibson was second with 17 points, while 2006 champion Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavericks scored 14 in the three-player final.

The first-year Raptor earned US$35,000 for the win.

Phoenix Suns guard Steve Nash of Victoria struggled to a score of nine points in the opening round, while two-time champ Peja Stojakovic of the New Orleans Hornets, with 15 points, and Detroit Pistons guard Richard Hamilton (14), were also eliminated.


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