Baddeley claims share of the lead

Aaron Baddeley turned up the pressure on playing partner Jim Furyk to claim a share of the lead in the Verizon Heritage – although the presence of Ernie Els already in the clubhouse on 10 under was an ominous thought.

Aaron Baddeley turned up the pressure on playing partner Jim Furyk to claim a share of the lead in the Verizon Heritage – although the presence of Ernie Els already in the clubhouse on 10 under was an ominous thought.

Australian Baddeley, who finished yesterday with an eagle two after holing his 160-yard approach to the 18th, moved to 12 under after three birdies in his first five holes despite the breezy conditions at the Harbour Town Links.

Furyk, who led by two overnight, initially responded to the challenge with birdies at the first and fifth but he dropped shots at the seventh and eighth to concede the lead.

But when Baddeley found the greenside bunker at the 11th and could not get up and down he fell back to 11-under with Furyk.

Both then birdied the next, Baddeley from 18 feet and Furyk from nine feet.

Meanwhile, world number five Els moved into joint third place with a six-under par of 65, level with American Jerry Kelly.

Four birdies in his first five holes allowed the South African to quickly advance from his overnight four under.

A bogey four at the seventh was followed by a double-bogey at the par-four next but Els pulled one back at the ninth to turn in 34 and then another at the 11th before three back-to-back birdies from the 15th saw him finish as strong as he started.

“It was a fun day today. I have been trying to get myself going over the last couple of weeks and when you put a lot of work in and don’t get the run you normally start questioning yourself and I didn’t want to do that. Today was a nice day,” said Els.

“Before today I hadn’t made many putts. Right now it feels like I don’t have too many weaknesses.

“The wind is really playing some games out there. The 16th and 17th are the toughest holes today.

“Coming down the stretch you have opportunities for birdies but you have to be careful.”

England’s Ian Poulter dropped back to two under after a one-over-par round of 72, having started with two birdies in his opening six holes, while compatriots Brian Davis (75), Justin Rose (74) and Greg Owen (74) saw their hopes of mounting a challenge disappear.

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