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GOLF ROUNDUP

Flu stops Woods

Sabbatini still 4 shots ahead

Rory Sabbatini made a 5-foot birdie on the 18th hole that allowed him to finish yesterday the same way he started -- with a four-shot lead in the Nissan Open at Los Angeles and in total command of his game.

That was about the only thing that went according to plan.

A forecast for rain gave way to brilliant skies over Riviera, allowing for the best scoring of the week. And despite making the cut Friday (11 shots out of the lead) with bogeys on his final two holes for a 74, Tiger Woods withdrew with the flu, the first time in his pro career he has left in the middle of a tournament for health reasons.

The fans still had a local favorite they love to cheer.

Fred Couples, a two-time winner of the Nissan Open who dominated at Riviera in the '90s, overcame his head cold with a 31 on the back nine to shoot 65, leaving him in the last group with a chance to rekindle some of his past glory on the course off Sunset Boulevard.

''If I can play a really good round, I can catch Rory," Couples said. ''If he plays well, we're all done."

Sabbatini shot a 67 and was at 14-under 199. Couples was tied with Craig Barlow, who shot 67.

Clearly, it all depends on Sabbatini, who might be the hottest player on the PGA Tour with two second-place finishes this year and nothing worse than a tie for 20th. Right when a couple of players were closing in on his lead, he ran off three straight birdies, then padded his lead one extra stroke with an approach to 5 feet on the fabled 18th.

LPGA -- Joo Mi Kim holed a 2-foot birdie putt on the second playoff hole, defeating fellow South Korean Soo Young Moon in the season-opening SBS Open at Kahuku, Hawaii.

Kim shot a final-round 71 to earn her first Tour victory and finished with a 10-under 206 total. After sinking the putt, she was soaked with champagne by fellow players on the 18th green and was then forced to jump into the lake.

Moon (69) missed a 10-footer that would have sent it into a third playoff hole.

Lorena Ochoa (67) was eliminated on the first playoff hole after missing a 6-footer.

Kim joined the Tour last year after a successful stint on the Korea LPGA Tour.

Champions -- Loren Roberts shot a 66 to grab a share of the lead after two rounds of the Ace Group Classic in Naples, Fla., as he attempts to win three straight tournaments.

Roberts, Don Pooley, and Brad Bryant are tied at 11-under 133, one shot ahead of Rick Karbowski of Worcester.

European -- Thammanoon Srirot overtook David Park to take the lead of a shortened (54 holes) Malaysian Open in Kuala Lumpur. Thammanoon rolled in a 30-foot birdie putt on his first hole of the third round to go to 13-under before play was suspended due to bad weather.

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