Federal Express St Jude Classic
Federal Express St Jude Classic
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Olazabal in top form heading into US Open

Jose Maria Olazabal shot a dazzling closing round of 62 in the rain-delayed FedEx St Jude Classic in Memphis - but had to be content with finishing in fourth place.

The Masters champion had moved into a one-stroke lead when the final warm-up event for the US Open was hit by torrential storms yesterday.

Olazabal, who had been seven behind with a round to go, still had four holes to play and he grabbed a ninth birdie to set the clubhouse target of 268, 16 under.

But the third-round leaders still had their entire rounds to play, and 32-year-old Ted Tryba grabbed his second US Tour victory by two strokes, a 66 giving him a 19-under-par total of 265. An eagle on the long 16th was the decisive moment.

Fellow Americans Tom Lehman and Tim Herron shared second place on 267, while Olazabal's fellow countryman Miguel Angel Jimenez heads for the US Open in confident mood as well after a 65 took him to 13 under.

Tryba, whose previous tour victory was in 1995, is remembered for the fact that as a youngster he used to hit plastic golf balls out of his grandmother's mouth with a plastic club as a birthday ritual.

Olazabal's preparations for the second major of the year - and his attempt to keep the dream of a Grand Slam of the majors alive - are far better than they were for the Masters two months ago.

The 33-year-old went to Augusta depressed about his chances after missing the halfway cut in the Bellsouth Classic in Atlanta but turned his form on its head to win his second green jacket by two from Davis Love.

It completed a fairytale return from the crippling injury which almost ended his career three years ago.

Olazabal has finished in the top 20 in the last two US Opens, and although his driving remains a worry, Pinehurst calls for more imagination on and around the greens than most courses used for the championship, and that is his strength.

Sporting Life