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K.J. Choi learned that Greg Norman is a very imaginative player, Choi said after their round on Saturday. (Franklin/Getty Images)

Choi loses lead to Norman but vows to strike back

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As did everyone else Saturday, K.J. Choi had trouble controlling his shots in the whistling wind. But he still ikes the course, and believes he can bounce back big on Sunday.

SOUTHPORT, England (AP) - K.J. Choi watched Greg Norman take away his Open Championship lead and then bemoaned the strong winds that battered the Royal Birkdale links.

"I couldn't control my tee shot or putting," said the Korean, who is now two shots behind the Australian two-time Open winner. "The key was the putting. I was scared when I took a backswing as the wind was moving the ball."

Most of the 83 players who made it to the weekend were shaken by the gusting 40 mph winds that blew down temporary shrubs and rattled the tents around the course. Some were forced to wait for up to 30 minutes for the gales to die down because stationary balls began moving again, one even in a bunker.

"Today was tougher than the third round at Carnoustie in 1999," Choi said in reference to the 81 he took at that Open, his highest score in the championship. "The winds were 35 mph then, but today it was more than that. If it is windy tomorrow, it will be tough for everyone. Tomorrow, it'll be important for me to putt well.

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"I missed about three or four putts from inside 4 feet. I tried to hit it harder but it was always short. The wind was blowing, which made it tough."

The only player under par after the first two rounds, Choi came home in 75, a 5-over round that left him 4 over for the tournament. Norman, one behind him overnight, is now two ahead after a 72.

"Greg Norman is a very good player, very imaginative," Choi said. "More imaginative than me."

The Korean, who missed a short birdie putt at the fifth that would have given him a four-shot lead over Norman, lost his advantage altogether when he double-bogeyed the sixth and then three-putted the eighth.

Norman picked up two birdies in the last five holes and that made the difference and the Australian, who last won the Open in 1993 at Royal St. George's, was giving a standing ovation as he walked onto the 18th green.

But Choi wasn't overawed by the Shark and is confident he can hit back.

"I'm still in a good position. Five over par today is still OK," he said. "I still have a chance, I'm sure of that. After a good rest tonight, I'm going to give it my all tomorrow.

"I will have to try to catch up. I enjoy the golf course, and I'm comfortable on this course."

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