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Putting troubles and tough greens keep Woods in sight

Written by: Staff

HOYLAKE, England, July 22 (Reuters) Tiger Woods cited a cool putter and tricky pin positions for preventing him from extending his single-shot lead after the British Open third round today.

Woods stuck to his game plan of not using driver off the tee and his strategy worked out perfectly as he negotiated his way up the parched fairways and around the tricky bunkers.

However, when the world number one reached the greens he stumbled, three-putting three times on the back nine as he carded four bogeys, failed to extend his overnight lead and saw the pack close up.

''These were some of the most difficult pin positions I've seen in an Open and you had to hit some quality shots,'' Woods said after his one-under par round of 71.

''But every green had different speeds and you had to be aware. If I'd putted normally I would have had a better day.

''Take away three three-putts in eight holes and I would have a four-shot lead. Hopefully I can putt a little better tomorrow.'' Woods suggested the variety of approaches to playing the Hoylake holes, especially the par-fives, had contributed to a bunched leaderboard.

''This course is a very fair course, but extremely fast. You can play it so many different ways, but ultimately it's fair, he said.

''When you've got four par-fives you can hit in several ways, it's going to make the leaderboard bunched.'' Woods said he would continue to use irons off the tee when he goes out in the final pairing with Sergio Garcia tomorrow.

''Not hitting driver has got me in the lead so far,'' he said.

''I don't see any reason why I should change. The problem is, if you hit over the bunkers but put the ball in the wispy stuff, you can't control your spin.'' Woods agreed his record of winning all 10 times he has led a major going into the final round, should help him.

''I've done it before, it always gives you confidence you can do it again,'' he said.

However, he refuted suggestions that he would have a psychological advantage over Garcia, who ran him close in the 1999 US PGA Championship but who has not featured in a British Open showdown before.

And he reminded reporters that it was not a two-man affair, saying: ''It's not just Sergio and myself. There's a whole bunch of guys up there.'' Reuters AD VP0045

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