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SENIOR GOLF THE TRADITION : Record Round Might Not Be Enough

April 04, 1993|DAN HAFNER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Tom Weiskopf says the third round of a 72-hole tournament is the time for those back in the pack to rally.

Al Geiberger took Weiskopf at his word Saturday, fired a record eight-under-par 64 and moved into contention in the $850,000 Tradition.

Geiberger turned a hot putter into the best round ever on the rugged 6,869-yard Cochise course at Desert Mountain Country Club. Geiberger, who shot the first 59 on the PGA Tour, made six putts of from 10 to 12 feet to break the record of 65 held by several players, including Isao Aoki and Tom Shaw on Friday.

But to have a chance to win his third tournament of the year, Geiberger might need another record score. At nine-under 207, he trails co-leaders Shaw and Gibby Gilbert by five shots. Gilbert, the leader after 36 holes, bogeyed three of the first six holes but rallied with the help of two eagles to post a 69 and a three-round total of 202. Shaw had a 67 to reach the same score.

Mike Hill, after shooting a 31 on the tougher front nine, settled for a 66 and is one shot behind the leaders. Another stroke behind are Dale Douglass and Weiskopf at 204. Aoki, who had putting problems during a round of 71, is at 205.

Jack Nicklaus, Raymond Floyd and defending champion Lee Trevino appear to be out of it. Trevino shot a 72 and is six shots behind the leaders. Floyd is seven shots back and Nicklaus, winless on any tour since 1991, is nine shots behind after a 70.

Most of the leaders agree that anyone within four or five shots could win, but not anyone further back.

If anyone does charge, it will be on the par-fives, all five of which are reachable in two. There have been 26 eagles in the first three days.

Gilbert, after almost falling out of contention with his early bogeys, used two eagles to get back on top. With a bit more luck, he could have had four.

On the 569-yard eighth, he sank a 35-foot shot out of a sand trap for his first eagle. On the 500-yard 12th, he reached in two and made a nine-footer.

On the 534-yard 15th, his chip shot stopped an inch from the hole. The big disappointment came on the 531-yard 18th, where he hit a four-iron to within 2 1/2 feet and missed his putt.

"The way he was playing the fives, I tried to give it to him," playing partner Shaw said.

Although he made a birdie on the hole, Gilbert was glad to get the round completed.

"I saw parts of this course I never saw before," he said. "You can't afford to give shots to par here, but I was fortunate to get back in it.

"All year long I've been playing the par-fives poorly. It's a strange game."

The man to beat might be Hill. He recently recovered from shingles and says: "This is the best I've felt since I won at Naples (Florida) in mid-February."

Hill, trailing by four strokes when the round began, had six birdies on the first 10 holes to surge into a temporary lead.

"I was thinking of the course record after 10 holes," Hill said. "But I missed two short putts, then missed a 12-footer for an eagle on 18. But I feel real good. I'd settle for a 68 tomorrow and if somebody beats me, I'll say God bless him and I'll try again next time."

Geiberger had to make a 12-footer on 18 to break the record after a bogey on 17.

"When I shot the 59 at Memphis, I didn't know I was going for the record and it was the same way today," Geiberger said. "If I'd known it, I probably would have choked.

"But my game is back, and we'll see what happens tomorrow."

Golf Notes

Miller Barber birdied the final hole to win the $22,000 first prize in the 54-hole Grand Tradition. Barber finished at 212, four under par, to beat Don January by one shot in the tournament within a tournament for the 60-and-older golfers.

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