GULLANE, Scotland, July 21 (UPI) -- Golf's great equalizier turned the British Open upside down Saturday and, in the process, handed the world's best player his worst day as a professional.
An hour before the final group was scheduled to tee off in the third round, a forboding cloud moved inland off the East Lothian coast and slashed the Muirfield links with rain and wind.
It became just a matter of survival and the player who survived the best was Ernie Els, who bounced back from an opening-nine 40 to shoot a 1-over 72 for a 54-hole total of 5-under 208.
Els, a two-time winner of the U.S. Open and ranked No. 3 in the world, was two shots in front of unlikely challenger Soren Hansen of Denmark and three shots ahead of a crowd of players, some of whom were no more than afterthoughts when the day began but who capitalized on early starting times to post good scores before the foul weather moved in.
The wind began to gust and the rain began to fall just as Tiger Woods stepped to the first tee. Trailing by two shots at the time, Woods was in position to capture his third straight major championship and keep alive his quest for the Grand Slam.
After a long and miserable day, however, Woods had shot an 81, his highest score as a professional. He was at 6-over 219, 11 shots out of the lead.
"I hit poor shots on a tough day and it added up to a high number," Woods said.
Woods, however, kept his sense of humor. After making a three-foot putt on the par-5 17th for his lone birdie of the day, he raised his arms in triumph and then, to the cheers of the crowd, took off his cap and took a deep bow.
The weather created some amazing stories on a course that is considered to be the best in Britain and is ranked by many as No. 1 in the world.
Colin Montgomerie, who shot his career best British Open round on Friday with a 64, turned in an 84 Saturday. Never in the 131-year history of the tournament had a player shot 20 shots higher than he had the previous day.
Duffy Waldorf was staggered so much by the weather that he shot a 9-over 45 on the front nine. But he birdied five holes in a row on the back, recorded a 77 and was still alive in the search for the title at even-par 213.
Rose and Leonard began the day tied for 27th place and were paired together early in the round. They both shot 68 and then watched on television the rest of the afternoon as they climbed higher and higher up the leaderboard.
Instead of simply going out early Sunday and being a forgotten members of the field, Rose and Leonard will play together again as the next-to-last twosome on the course -- both having a great chance to win the tournament.
Yankees outlasted Red Sox in 11
NEW YORK, July 21 (UPI) -- Steve Karsay tossed three scoreless innings Saturday, twice working in and out of bases-loaded jams, as the New York Yankees outlasted the Boston Red Sox, 9-8, on Robin Ventura's bases-loaded fielder's choice in the 11th.
Karsay (5-4) helped restore some order to a bullpen that came into Saturday's game with a 6.55 ERA in the previous 25 games, the worst mark in the major leagues during that span.
New York's bullpen experienced more problems as closer Mariano Rivera, Ramiro Mendoza and Mike Stanton squandered a 6-3 lead during Boston's five-run eighth.
Despite throwing 110 pitches, starter Orlando Hernandez was allowed to begin the eighth and promptly gave up two hits. Manager Joe Torre seemed to get caught short with no one warming up at the start of the inning.
After the two hits, Torre finally got up Mendoza and Rivera, then opted to bring in his closer for the final six outs.
Rivera, who spent time on the disabled list earlier this season with a groin injury, was forced to leave with a strained shoulder after facing just two batters.
Other American League results: Toronto 12, Tampa Bay 10; Minnesota 14, Detroit 4. Cleveland and Kansas City split a double header, the Royals winning the first game, 7-5, and the Indians grabbing the second, 5-3 in 10 innings. Kansas City's nine-game winning streak came to an end.
Atlanta wins fifth straight
PHILADELPHIA, July 21 (UPI) -- Gary Sheffield and Andruw Jones each drove in two runs and five pitchers combined on a five-hitter to lead the Atlanta Braves to their fifth straight win Saturday, a 4-3 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies.
The Braves extended their franchise-record consecutive unbeaten series mark to 21 at 17
Sheffield had an RBI single in the first inning and doubled home a run in the third. Jones capped the third with a two-run single to stake the Braves to a 4-0 lead.
The Phillies added two more in the sixth on an RBI single by Jeremy Giambi and a run-scoring groundout by Lieberthal.
Smoltz set a club record with his 22nd straight save, eclipsing Mark Wohlers' mark of 21 in 1995.
Other National League results: Houston 3, Chicago 2; Los Angeles 4, San Francisco 2; Florida 3, Montreal 0; Pittsburgh 15, St. Louis 6; New York 8, Cincinnati 7; Colorado 6, Milwaukee 5.
Armstrong's lead unchanged
Overall leader Lance Armstrong was content to stay in the pack since none of his major rivals tried to join Saturday's break and he maintained a comfortable advantage in search of his fourth consecutive championship.
It was the second stage win of Millar's career, but the first on a road course as he covered the 171 kilometers from Lavelanet to Beziers in four hours, eight minutes, 18 seconds. He outsprinted Spain's David Etxebarria to the line at the end of a relatively flat stage that came after two mountain stages during which Armstrong took charge of the tour.
The 11-rider breakaway opened as much as an 11-minute lead on the peloton and included in the break was Laurent Jalabert of France. It was the third straight day Jalabert has tried to get away from the field as he rides in his final Tour de France.
He wound up at the end of the breakaway group Saturday, in 11th place and 1:10 behind Millar. The peloton finished 9:56 back of the stage winner. But none of those in the break were close to the overall lead when the stage began, so Armstrong and his United States Postal Service teammates were content to let the small group open a big gap.
Armstrong, who won both the Thursday and Friday rides through the Pyrenees, leads Spain's Joseba Beloki by 2:28. Igor Gonzalez Galdeano of Spain is 3:19 back, followed by Raimondas Rumsas of Lithuania (5:15) and Colombia's Santiago Botero (5:44).
Sparks roll past Rockers
CLEVELAND, July 21 (UPI) -- Mwadi Mabika overcame a dislocated finger Saturday to score 15 points and Nikki Teasley and Lisa Leslie added 14 as the Los Angeles Sparks rolled to a 63-50 victory over the Cleveland Rockers.
Mabika played just four minutes in the first half before dislocating the index finer on her right hand. But she returned in the second half to score 13 points and helped key the biggest run of the game.
The Sparks were clinging to a 29-27 lead with 17:35 remaining before reeling off 13 straight points. Mabika and Leslie scored four points during the spurt, which gave the Rockers a 42-27 cushion with 12:08 to go.
Cleveland missed its final six shots of the first half and nine of its first 10 after halftime.
Other WNBA results: Utah 83, Washington 73; Detroit 69, Miami 48.
Barron wins first IRL race
LEBANON, Tenn., July 21 (UPI) -- Alex Barron became the fourth first-time winner in the Indy Racing League this season Saturday night as the Southern California native won the Firestone Indy 200 at Nashville Superspeedway.
Barron passed leader Scott Sharp on a restart nine laps from the finish, going side-by-side in the first turn and pulling ahead out of the second turn. He was cruising to victory before the final caution period as Jeff Ward crashed coming out of the fourth turn with five laps remaining.
The green flag waved with just two laps left and Barron was able to stay head of Gil de Ferran. Sharp finished third, followed by Sam Hornish Jr. and Richie Hearn.
Hornish appeared on his way to victory before an accident on lap 171. Tomas Scheckter and Bill Boat crashed in the second turn and Hornish, the leader, slowed when the yellow light flashed. George Mack's car slammed into the left rear wheel of Hornish's car.
Hornish was able to stay on the track until pit road opened and his team replaced all four wheels. But that dropped him to fifth place on the restart on lap 179.
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