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Sabbatini gets another shot at Woods on Sunday

Tiger Woods, Round 3, WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone
Stuart Franklin/Getty Images
Woods bogeyed 18 to finish one behind Rory Sabbatini.

Everyone remembers Wachovia, but what was the other time?

"NCAAs, final round. I beat him by five," Sabbatini said proudly.

That would be in 1996 at The Honors Course in Tennessee, when Woods played his final year at Stanford as a sophomore. Woods won the NCAA title that year by closing with an 80 to beat Sabbatini by four shots. Sabbatini, who played at Arizona, shot 75.

"He did, but I beat him in the final round," Sabbatini said with a grin. "So if I beat him by five tomorrow, I'm loving my chances."

The trick is to beat Firestone, and the best hope is for rain.

The course was dry and firm, with thick rough and hard greens — the nastiest combination in golf. And it showed on the leaderboard, where only three players remained under par and Woods was the only player among the top five on the leaderboard going into the final round who managed to avoid a double bogey or worse.

Masters champion Zach Johnson was the best example of how quickly Firestone can punish even the best players. He was tied for the lead until dropping six shots in two holes, including a quadruple bogey on the ninth hole. He finished with a 76.

The best anyone could do was a 67. One of those belonged to Aaron Baddeley and put him in a tie for fourth at 1-over 211. He joined a group that included Justin Leonard and Hunter Mahan, who each had a 71; and Andres Romero, the 26-year-old from Argentina coming off his first European Tour victory last week in Germany.

"You look at some of these pins and you just start to laugh," Leonard said. "But it's supposed to rain tomorrow, soften up a little bit. And if that happens, we might see some better scores."

Big numbers figure to stick around regardless. Sabbatini got his early when his shot out of a fairway bunker clipped a tree and dropped into the deep rough, leaving him little chance of reaching the green.

No one struggled quite like Johnson, who went from right rough to left rough, from the bunker to over the green, then needed three shots to move the ball some 20 feet onto the putting surface, where he made a 4-footer for 8.

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