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Former Open Champion Justin Leonard holds share of the lead at the Tampa Bay Championship

Updated: Sunday, 17 Mar 2013 10:15 | Comments

Leonard studies his ball on the 15th green
Leonard studies his ball on the 15th green

Justin Leonard put himself in contention for a first PGA Tour title in five years after claiming a share of the lead heading into the final round of Tampa Bay Championship.

The 1997 British Open champion's last success on the tour was at the St Jude Championship in 2008 but he will start the last day at the Innisbrook Copperhead Course level on six under par with fellow American Kevin Streelman and South African George Coetzee.

Leonard, 40, might even have been clear on his own after an impressive start left him five under for the round after 12 holes but he dropped a shot at the par-three 15th and had to settle for a 67.

"The greens were starting to get very firm and very fast. I hit a lot of great drives, hit a few greens and made a few putts and all of a sudden I'm leading the golf tournament," said the former Ryder Cup player on Sky Sports 3.

Leonard's round was two less than Streelman whose blemish-free 65 was the best of the day by two shots.

He picked up two birdies on the front nine before adding four more on the back to storm up the leaderboard after starting the day on level par.

"I wanted to get to six under today," said Streelman, who is hunting his first success after three third-place finishes in his PGA career.

"All of a sudden I'm leading the golf tournament" - Justin Leonard

"I had that number in my mind to at least have a chance going into tomorrow so I was happy to get there. The wind out here can wreak havoc on us. Tomorrow is supposed to be beautiful, as well."

Coetzee, meanwhile, carded a second successive 68 to further his chances of a maiden PGA success .

There are plenty of other players still well within striking distance of glory though, with the top 16 separated by only three shots.

One shot behind the leading trio are a group of four players, made up of Americans Jim Furyk (67), Ben Kohles (69) and Tag Ridings (70), as well as Australian Greg Chalmers (69).

Defending champion Luke Donald of England was the leading European on four under after also recording a 67, leaving him level with early tournament pacesetter Shawn Stefani who suffered a day to forget.

PGA Tour rookie Stefani had led after both the opening two days with rounds of 65 and 70 and he boasted a one-shot advantage over the chasing pack at seven under coming into today.

However, the 31-year-old quickly slumped back to three under after dropping four shots on the front nine, and although he picked up birdies at the 12th and 14th, a fifth bogey of the day on the 17th saw him card a 74.

Australia's Adam Scott and South Korean KJ Choi - who were joint second at the start of play - also struggled badly, and they were both down on one under for the tournament after scoring 76s today.

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