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September 8, 2009

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3 share lead at Deutsche Bank

STEVE Stricker squeezed everything he could out of his final shot on Sunday in the Deutsche Bank Championship in Norton, Massachusetts, setting up an eagle that gave him a share of the lead in a tournament loaded with possibilities.

Stricker, who can overtake Tiger Woods atop the FedEx Cup standings with a victory, hit his hybrid to 5 feet on the par-5 18th for a 6-under 65. He was among a dozen players separated by three shots going into the Labor Day finish at TPC Boston.

O'Hair, who started the blustery third round tied for the lead, overcame a sluggish start with birdies on two of the last three holes for a 70. Retief Goosen settled for a 68 to share the lead with Stricker and O'Hair.

"I needed a day like this today to get back into it," Stricker said.

Just about everyone else - except Woods - apparently had the same idea.

While the leaders were at 13-under 200, Woods was nine shots behind in a tie for 30th. Woods did not speak to reporters, going to the locker room to have his back stretched.

The gallery still has a rooting favorite among those trying to win. Padraig Harrington, cheered wildly in a region with a large Irish population, knocked in a long birdie putt at the 18th for a 67 and was among those one shot behind, along with Scott Verplank (68) and Kevin Na (66).

"There's a saying, 'There's 5 million people in Ireland and 40 million in the States,' and I think those 40 million people live in Boston," Harrington said.

Jim Furyk, who had a share of the 36-hole lead with O'Hair, slumped to a 73 yet. He was at 10-under 203.

In Switzerland, Sweden's Alex Noren held off a challenge from Britain's Bradley Dredge to claim his maiden title at the European Masters on Sunday.

A closing five-under-par 66 for a 20-under 264 total left Noren two strokes better than Dredge (65). Briton Ross McGowan (65) was third.


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