MIAMI, Oct 27 (Reuters) Swede Daniel Chopra eyed his maiden PGA Tour title after joining American Bob Estes at the top of the leaderboard in the unfinished Ginn sur Mer Classic third round at Port St Lucie, Florida.
Chopra and Estes both birdied the par-five 11th to get to 16 under overall in the Tour's penultimate event of the season before play was suspended yesterday for the day in fading light.
A stroke off the pace when the rain-delayed second round was completed earlier, Chopra drew level with Estes after gathering four birdies and a lone bogey in the first 11 holes.
Estes, joint pacesetter with fellow American Tommy Armour III for the first two rounds, ran up five birdies and three bogeys to remain tied for the lead with one day remaining.
American Briny Baird was two strokes back in third place after reeling off eight birdies in the first 15 holes, level with Japan's Shigeki Maruyama, after 14.
In mainly damp and overcast conditions at Tesoro Club's Palmer Course, Chopra and playing partner Estes engaged in a thrilling battle for the lead.
Estes, a four-times Tour winner, faltered early when he three-putted for bogey at the first before recovering with an 18-foot birdie putt at the par-five second.
After Estes rolled in a nine-footer at the third to get to 15 under, Armour lipped out with his own birdie attempt there from seven feet.
THIRD TITLE Tour veteran Armour, hunting his third Tour title, then double-bogeyed the fourth.
Chopra, born to a Swedish mother and Indian father, moved into a tie for the lead when he birdied the par-five second.
Like Estes, he picked up another shot at the third by rolling in a seven-footer before slipping back with a bogey at the fifth where he found the left rough off the tee.
Estes followed suit at the par-four sixth, dropping back to 14 under after missing the fairway off the tee while Chopra coaxed in a 17-foot birdie putt there to edge ahead.
Estes again rallied, a seven-footer at the par-five seventh putting him level with Chopra before he dropped his third shot of the day at the eighth.
The gutsy American regained a share of the lead by rolling in a 10-footer to birdie the par-four ninth where Chopra missed his own opportunity from seven feet.
After they each picked up another shot at the 11th, they both found the green off the tee at the par-three 12th before play was suspended for the day.
REUTERS SZ PM0525