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GOLF ROUNDUP

Woods Is Right on Target

August 21, 1996|From Associated Press

Looking every bit like the two-time champion he is, Tiger Woods was the best of 312 golfers by shooting a seven-under-par 136 at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club to lead stroke-play qualifying for the U.S. Amateur Championship.

Woods, trying to become the first player to win three consecutive Amateur titles, shot a 67 Tuesday at Cornelius, Ore., and now has a chance to be the first medalist to win the tournament since Phil Mickelson in 1990.

The 20-year-old Stanford junior from Cypress birdied four of the last seven holes on the par-72 Witch Hollow course to slip past Bo Van Pelt, who finished at 138.

"That wasn't the plan," Woods said about being medalist. "The plan was to just go out and shoot right around par."

He was much better than that, turning the front nine in 35 and then rolling in four birdie putts in the 12- to 18-foot range on the back nine.

"I guess the putter got hot a little bit," he said about his 32 on the back nine.

The low 64 scores in the two-day medal qualifier advanced to six rounds of match play, culminating with a 36-hole final Sunday.

The way Van Pelt started his round it looked like he might struggle just to qualify for match play. The Oklahoma State junior went out in 38 but rallied to come back in 32.

"After making three bogeys the first five holes I was just saying, 'You better hit this solid or you're going to miss the cut,' " Van Pelt said.

"No. 6 I hit a bad shot in that fairway bunker and I hit a good shot in there about 10 feet and that kind of turned my day around," Van Pelt said.

The last time Woods lost in the U.S. Amateur was in the second round in 1993 when he was defeated by Paul Page of England, 2 and 1. Page isn't playing this year.

Since then Woods has defeated 12 consecutive opponents.

Earlier in the day, Woods seemed to end speculation that he would soon turn professional when he confirmed he had accepted an invitation from the USGA to play in the World Amateur Team Championship in the Philippines in November.

"Yes, I said I will be there," Woods told The Associated Press before teeing off.

Also qualifying on Tuesday was 1993 champion John Harris at 142, while '91 winner Mitch Voges missed the cut with a 150 and 1986 winner Buddy Alexander failed to qualify at 148.

Jerry Courville, who was the stroke play medalist last year only to lose in the first round of match play, qualified again at 144.

UCI sophomore Mike Lawrence of Tucson qualified at two-over 145 after a 74 Tuesday.

Lawrence's Anteater teammate, Jesse Lanham (151) of Long Beach, Santa Margarita High senior Nate Blauer (155) and Ryan Donovan (164) of Yorba Linda failed to advance.

*

Mark Calcavecchia missed a 3-foot par putt on the 18th hole to allow Greg Norman and Brad Faxon to repeat as champions of the $700,000 Fred Meyer Challenge at West Linn, Ore.

Norman and Faxon finished at 18-under-par 124. Calcavecchia and Billy Mayfair were one shot behind.

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