Weir takes charge with a 68 in Hawaii

Last updated at 20:01 07 January 2008

Mike Weir fired a five-under-par 68 in the third round of the PGA Tour's

season-opening Mercedes-Benz championship.

At 13-under 206, the Canadian leads Nick Watney by one shot while Daniel Chopra

and Jonathan Byrd are tied for third at 11-under.

Mike Weir

Weir played in an all-Canadian pairing with Stephen Ames and found himself tied

for the lead with Ames for much of the round.

Weir went back in front when Ames bogeyed the 10th and he added birdies at Nos.

12, 14 and 18 coming in.

Ames was a shot back to start the day and is in fifth at 10-under 209 after

signing for a three-under 70.

The winner of the 2003 Masters, Weir entered the round with a one-shot lead and

birdied the fifth and ninth. Ames wasted no time grabbing a share of the lead

with a birdie at the first. He matched Weir with birdies at numbers five and

nine on the Plantation Course at Kapalua, which is the lone par-73 layout on the

PGA Tour.

Weir could have put more distance between himself and the field with makeable

birdie putts at 15 and 16 but he grazed the lip on both. He did close with a

birdie at 18 but that just put him right back where he started the day.

After his bogey at 10, Ames was unable to make another birdie until 18 but

there were plenty of others ready to step in and put pressure on Weir.

Watney had six birdies in a 67 that included consecutive birdies to close the

round. Chopra also carded a 67 while Jim Furyk, Justin Leonard, Brandt Snedeker

and Steve Stricker are all at nine-under 210.

"I played exactly the same way I played the first day, pretty much," Chopra

said. "That was my goal, just eliminate the mistakes that I made over the

previous rounds in certain areas, and for the most part I was able to do that.

"Every time I made a mistake this week it felt like it was a stupid mistake,

and it was a silly bogey. That was my main goal today, was just to eliminate


The winner here in 2001, Furyk carded his first birdie at number five and made

the turn at two-under for the round. He got hot coming in, firing five birdies

on the back nine, including a run of three straight starting at number 14 and a

birdie at 18 to cap his round.

"I had kind of a slow start. I really struggled with my putter early, believe

it or not," Furyk said. "I had a lot of - a ton of opportunities to make

birdie on the front nine and I was able to make two putts at five and eight, but

I left - I missed a little four-footer at nine and missed a bunch of short ones,

some very, very makeable putts.

"I actually did make some good strokes on the back nine and got to see some

putts go in and really turned it around. When I started that nine I was pretty

far back. And to go out there and shoot 5-under on the back, all of a sudden I'm

within one right now and I'll probably be within three or four by the end of the

day. So from way back to kind of in the thick of things tomorrow."

Defending champion Vijay Singh shot 67 and is at 8-under 211 along with 2007

U.S. Open champion Angel Cabrera and Chad Campbell.

"I played very well. It's probably the worst I could have shot," Singh said.

"I could have made four other birdies on the front side that I missed, but it

was kind of getting a little frustrating there. But the golf swing is feeling

really, really good, so that's a plus."