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Toilet injury hits leader's hopes

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Allenby received treatment between shots after his injury

MELBOURNE, Australia -- Australian Open leader Robert Allenby may have to abandon his bid to win his national golf championship after suffering a bizarre injury during Saturday's third round at the Moonah Links course in Melbourne.

Allenby defied a howling wind, shooting a par 72 to be nine-under par 207 after 54 holes and five clear at the top of the leaderboard.

But he may be unfit for Sunday's final round after aggravating a chronic hand injury while using an on-course toilet during Saturday's play.

Allenby said the injury occurred with three holes to play as he attempted to lock the toilet door.

"I was very lucky even to play the last three holes," he said.

"The nerve went in my middle finger and I had no feeling, no power - just pain."

Allenby received treatment as he walked between shots and on the subsequent tees, improvising with considerable success over the final holes.

Instead of a four-iron at the par-three 17th, he hit a five wood, his hand falling from the club at impact.

But the shot proved good enough to set up a par which he followed with a birdie at the last.

Allenby said he would continue to receive treatment during the night in a bid to be fit to claim a title he believes is his for the taking.

"I can't guarantee that I will be here tomorrow," he told reporters.

"But I think my hand would have to drop off for me not to play."

In second place, five shots behind Allenby, is compatriot Paul Sheehan with a further shot to Nick O'Hern, Rod Pampling and Aaron Baddeley on an all-Australian leaderboard.

Allenby has proved the equal of a Peter Thomson-designed course that has destroyed some of Australia's best, among them world No. 8 Adam Scott, who began the day four behind his compatriot.

A three-time winner in the US, Scott is still looking for his first Australian victory, but a round of 77 Saturday means he will still be looking when the Open is over, some 10 shots behind Allenby.

Hostile conditions

The hostile conditions at Moonah Links on Saturday rivaled those of the second round, the only difference was that the wind blew in from a different direction.

Scott provided an indication of its strength, driving his tee shot 341 meters with the wind at his back at the 13th and 224 meters when into it at the next.

With his attention focused on his hand, Allenby seemed less concerned with the ordeal being provided by a course that is coming in for increasingly bitter criticism from his fellow professionals.

Moonah Links was designed to provide the toughest test available, but many feel it is too tough.

US Tour player Craig Parry declared it unplayable for golfers of his modest length.

"What are they trying to do to us?" he asked. "The average hitter can't play this golf course."

Multiple US winner Stuart Appleby said it was unfit to host a tournament of the Open's standing.

"We shouldn't be playing an Australian Open here - we should be playing on a top-10 course.

"To think that courses like Royal Melbourne and Kingston Heath are sitting there while we play this place is ridiculous."

Taniguchi ahead

Toru Taniguchi surged to a one-shot lead after the third round of the Casio World Open golf tournament Saturday as calm returned to the course a day after US teen sensation Michelle Wie missed the cut.

The Japanese pro, seeking his first win of the season, started the day two strokes off the pace and carded a four-under-par 68 by rolling in five birdies against one bogey. He stood with a three-round total of 208.

South Korean Kim Jong-Duck trailed Taniguchi at 209 with Hideto Tanihara and Toru Suzuki of Japan one stroke further back at 210 in the 1.2-million-dollar event on the 7,220-yard Kuroshio Country Club course.

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