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Another wild day has Bjorn atop British Open

SANDWICH, England - The craziness won't end until someone has the claret jug.

At this British Open, that could be anybody.

Thomas Bjorn finished with 11 straight pars Saturday for a 2-under 69 at rugged Royal St. George's, giving him the lead for the first time in a major championship.

He feels like the underdog, and well he should.

Right behind is a roll call of the best players in golf - Davis Love III, Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh, Kenny Perry and Sergio Garcia.

''There's some big names up there,'' said Bjorn, who was at 1-under 212 and was the only player under par. ''I've got to play solid golf to beat them.''

Mark Roe of England won't get that chance.

He blew kisses to the gallery as he walked off the 18th green with a 67 that put him in the thick of the championship - only to discover minutes later he was disqualified for putting Jesper Parnevik's score (81) on his card.

''I've just played one of the greatest rounds of my life,'' said Roe, who would have been two shots off the lead. ''And I can't play tomorrow.''

Bizarre? Not at this British Open, where Woods lost a ball in the rough and Love hit a tee shot that ricocheted off a 3-inch wide out-of-bounds stake.

Sanity comes from the scoreboard.

4 Love, a three-time winner this year, recovered from a bad start to make an eagle and four solid pars down the stretch for a 72, leaving him at even-par 213 and one shot behind.

4 Woods dazzled the crowd with two eagles, but four bogeys over his final eight holes dropped him to a 69 and left him two shots behind.

4 Garcia chopped out of the rough twice on the 17th hole and was on the verge of posting a big number until holing a 60-yard wedge for ''the best par of my life'' and a 70.

4 Singh turned in the streakiest round of the day with only two pars over his final 12 holes. An eagle-birdie-birdie stretch was followed by four straight bogeys, and the big Fijian showed enough heart to birdie three of the final four for a 69.

''I thought I was totally out of it,'' Singh said. ''Quite happy with the way I finished.''

4 Perry might be the most dangerous of all. He is the hottest player in golf with three victories in his last four starts, and even a rare trip to the British Open - his first since 1991 at Royal Birkdale - didn't change that. He shot a 70.

There are a dozen players within four shots of the lead, with defending champion Ernie Els (72) still hoping for a miracle from six strokes behind.

Having marquee names at the top was reminiscent of what it looked like 10 years ago at Royal St. George's when Greg Norman won a shootout against eight of the best players in golf.

Love knew that would happen when the zany week started.

''I don't think anybody can run away and hide,'' he said. ''Every time you get on a run, something knocks you back. There's going to be a lot of players hanging around.''

Love is lucky he's one of them.

He squandered his two-shot lead with a couple of three-putt bogeys and was sliding farther down the leaderboard when he came up with his best shot of the day, a 1-iron into 30 feet for eagle on the par-5 14th.

He made a 6-foot putt on the 18th for his fourth straight par, getting him in the final pairing with Bjorn.

''There's going to be four or five guys that can win the golf tournament with just a few holes to go,'' Love said. ''It's going to be very tight. I was intent on making that putt on the last hole so I could be in the last group and watch the action from behind.''

That means he gets to watch Woods, which can be intimidating.

Woods' legs were close to the sodded walls of a pot bunker at the par-5 seventh. He had to make sure his swing was steep enough not to hit the lip going back and shallow enough going through to give the ball enough speed to get to the upper shelf.

''It wasn't a shot I was trying to get close,'' he said.

It came out perfectly, scooting along the green and dropping into the cup on the last turn. Woods raised both arms and looked to the skies, a celebration the British are used to seeing only after match point at Wimbledon.

Woods added a 30-foot birdie on the ninth and momentum was building.

As usual, the back nine at Royal St. George's has the last word.

Two bad breaks, one bad drive and a bad putt added to four bogeys and a spot where Woods has never had success - trying to win from behind.

He has never won a major when he didn't have at least a share of the lead going into the final round. He has never won a tournament when he shoots over par in the first round.

''Not one of those things I'm really thinking about,'' Woods said. ''I've won eight a different way, so maybe I can win one this way.''

And Bjorn?

The 32-year-old Dane has won seven times in Europe and has never contended on the back nine Sunday at a major. But don't question his moxie.

This is the guy who went 72 holes with Woods at the Dubai Desert Classic two years ago and beat him when Woods blinked with a double bogey on the final hole.

''It's a nice feeling to know you can go head-to-head with the guy and do well,'' Bjorn said. ''But this is a major championship. This is different. He's got a few more experiences walking out there on Sunday in the majors.''

Woods has rarely been in a shootout like this one in a Grand Slam event, although the 2001 Masters came close. Going for his fourth straight major, Woods was chased by Phil Mickelson, Els and David Duval, all within three shots of the lead.

Adding to the drama at Royal St. George's is that the quirky course allows for birdies on the first seven holes, and demands survival until the end.

''It's probably going to weed itself out on the back nine,'' Woods said. ''At least put yourself in position so you have a chance.''

He could have been speaking for anybody.