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Wiebe Moves Into Tucson Lead

Mark Wiebe seems to be getting better with age. So does his bank account.

Wiebe, his nerves intact after pulling a child out of the way of a golf cart, shot a 6-under-par 66 on Sunday in the Tucson Open to put himself in position for his first victory in nearly 15 years.

He won once in 1985, his second year on the PGA Tour, and again in 1986. But last season was Wiebe's most lucrative as he made 19 of 28 cuts and earned $511,414. Now he stands to make $540,000 in one tournament if he can put together another round like his last a seven-birdie, one-bogey gem.

"The only record I look at every year is the money list," Wiebe said about the time since his last title. "It's not how; just get the job done. I told them outside that I would love to play well tomorrow because I could say I played well every day."

His 54-hole total of 14-under 202 was good for a two-shot lead over Garrett Willis, who made a PGA Tour cut for the first time in four tries on Saturday and then came back with a 64 the best score of the tournament.

Wiebe will play the final round with Willis, and introductions will be in order.

"There's guys that can play that nobody in this room has heard of yet that will someday pop up, and we'll say, 'Who is that?'" Wiebe said. "Somebody said, 'You guys have a lot in common - you really like the course.' I said, 'Who is Garrett Willis?"'

Their scores were not out of proportion as the area's customary winter sunshine warmed the course after three days of cold. The tournament was pushed back a day after snow and rain forced the suspension of play Friday.

Glen Hnatiuk fired a 66 to get into a four-way tie for third with Kevin Sutherland, Mark Hensby and 1994 champion Andrew Magee.

So did Steve Flesch, Harrison Frazar and Brandt Jobe. They were five shots back along with Bernhard Langer, Hunter Haas, Geoff Ogilvy and Chris Riley.

Fred Couples, the biggest name in a field depleted by going head-to-head with the Mercedes Championships in Hawaii, and 1996 U.S. Open champion Steve Jones were part of a six-way cluster at 208.

Lee Porter never found the groove that carried him to a two-stroke lead heading into the third round, and shot 76. He will start the final round at 210.

Wiebe had four birdies by the turn.

Then came an incident in which a young boy asked for his autograph while Wiebe was sitting in the back of a cart. Somehow, the driver allowed the vehicle to roll backward and Wiebe, the father of three, grabbed the boy by the arm and lifted him onto his lap.

Shaken by the child's crying, Wiebe wanted to ask his playing partners to go first on the 10th tee, but knew it was against protocol because he had just birdied.

But he regained his composure, birdied No. 10 after lobbing a wedge within 6 feet, and made birdie on two of the next three holes to reach 15 under.

Wiebe gave back a stroke when he three-putted from 12 feet for a bogey on the 14th hole, but parred out with the help of a chip at No. 17 that rolled to a stop 2 feet from the pin.

Willis, who could use a big payday even more, lived a rookie's dream by leading most of the round. But he had too much ground to make up after starting at 4 under.

"I try not to look, but even playing the Tour, I've been the same way," he said. "I'm a leaderboard watcher. I just need to go out and do my business, not watch. At the same time I'm still in awe. I look up there and see some of the names that I've watched on TV for years."

He was nearly perfect with his irons, leaving himself no more than 8 feet on six of his eight birdies, and said a 20-minute frost delay helped.

"That was a big difference," Willis said. "Going out there and teeing off in decent weather allows the bones and body to get a little loose."

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