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Stricker on a streak and 25-under-par

Steve Stricker continued his sizzling play at the John Deere Classic yesterday, pulling away from the field with a 9-under 62 for six-shot lead heading into the final round.

Stricker's mastery of the TPC Deere Run course left him at 25-under 188 for the tournament, the best 54-hole score in PGA Tour history. With a 65 today, he'd break the 72-hole record of 254.

So dominant was Stricker that Jeff Maggert shot a 63 and lost ground. Paul Goydos, golf's latest Mr. 59 after a magical round on Thursday, played well enough to keep pace in most tournaments, just not this one. It would be hard for anyone to keep up with Stricker the way he's playing.

The 43-year-old hit accurate approaches to give himself short putts for birdies and he deftly extricated himself the only two times he got in trouble.

As well as he played, Stricker's round was just his second best of the tournament. He opened with a 60 and followed that with a 66.

So just what's going on here? "If I knew, I would bottle this," Stricker said. "I don't know what's going on."

Maggert, who started the day five shots behind Stricker, was at 19-under 194 and tied with Goydos. Goydos trailed Stricker by just one stroke going into the round. Playing in the last group with Stricker, Goydos saw his deficit grow steadily as his partner drilled one birdie putt after another on the back nine.

Former PGA champion Shaun Micheel also shot a 63 - and found himself 10 strokes off the lead. Rocco Mediate made a hole-in-one and an eagle en route to a 64 but trailed by 14.

Creamer leads Women's Open

One more day like this, and Paula Creamer will no longer be the best LPGA golfer who hasn't won a major.

Creamer kept her game together as a dozen others were losing theirs on a grueling day at the U.S. Women's Open at Oakmont, taking a three-shot lead over Wendy Ward that she hopes will hold up in the final round. That, and her left thumb.

Creamer, who has eight top-10 finishes in majors at age 23 but has yet to win one, is playing in only her fourth tournament since sitting out four months to surgically repair a hyperextended joint.

The injury is so painful she limits her practice because she can't stand the constant pounding of her golf club striking the ground.

Creamer, who played 29 holes Saturday, is 1 under for the tournament with five holes remaining in a third round that will be completed Sunday morning. Ward has only No. 18 to play. Suzann Pettersen is four back with four holes to go, while 15-year-old Alexis Thompson, Amy Yang and Brittany Lang are five back. Only Thompson completed the third round.

Creamer played all but two holes of her 1-under 70 in the morning - the only below-par score among those completing the second round after a rain delay on Friday. - AP

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