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Baird challenges Chopra, Estes as 3rd round suspended

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (AP) — Briny Baird just moved into a new house, only a couple minutes down the road from Tesoro Club.

No wonder he seemed right at home Saturday.

Making a huge move up the leaderboard, Baird's eight-birdie, one-bogey effort through 15 holes got him to 14 under and within two shots of leaders Bob Estes and Daniel Chopra during the suspended third round at the Ginn sur Mer Classic.

"So far, so good," Baird said. "I hit it good and I made some putts. Hit a couple of loose shots that weren't quite perfect and could have found the rough, but they turned out fine in the fairway."

Estes and Chopra made it through 11 holes of their third rounds, before play was halted at 6:38 p.m. Both were at 16 under for the tournament; Estes was 2 under in his third round, Chopra was 3 under, and they each left long birdie putts at the par-3 12th when they headed in for the evening.

"We could have finished if we had to, but we didn't need to and it was getting dark," Chopra said. "These greens, it's not just slope you have to read. You have to read grain ... if we were in 30th spot, we would have gone ahead and putted out, but there's a lot at stake now."

A lot, indeed: $810,000 goes to Sunday's eventual winner.

By nightfall Saturday, 13 players were within five shots of the lead, setting the stage for what could be a wild Sunday on an already-wet course. In all, 39 players finished and 34 will return Sunday morning to complete the third round - which was on about a six-hour pace because of the long gaps between tees and greens and the still-wet conditions.

Shigeki Maruyama got to 14 under through 14 holes and was tied for third with Baird. Fredrik Jacobsen was alone in fifth at 13 under through 14 holes, and Cameron Beckman - who entered the week in 128th place on the money list, desperate to get into that top 125 and earn full playing privileges for 2008 - shot a 67 to get to 12 under, which is where Tommy Armour III was when play ended.

Baird had one blemish on his card Saturday, a bogey at the par-3 fourth. He was 6 under over his next 10 holes, leapfrogging 13 players to get firmly into contention for what could be his first PGA Tour win in 243 career starts.

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