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Herron Won't Rest on Laurels

He has four-shot lead after 72 holes at Hope, but he knows there are low rounds out there at the Palmer Course.

February 02, 2003|Thomas Bonk | Times Staff Writer

LA QUINTA — With one round to go in the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, Tim Herron has to be wondering just how much is enough. There might be no such thing as a safe lead in the Hope or at the Palmer Course at PGA West, but Herron went ahead and took a stab at it.

"Uh, 10 shots," he said. "I mean, I shot 61 over here yesterday and I'm like, 'Man, is that a course record?' And I'm like, 'No, David Duval shot 59.' That's not even a course record, the lowest score I've ever shot.

"So if you're within six, eight, 10 shots of the lead, you have a chance to win the golf tournament."

There are 31 players within 10 shots of Herron, who produced a 65 at Indian Wells and tied the tournament record with a 72-hole score of 259, 29 under par.

With only one round to go, one more day left to pulverize par and the Palmer Course, the players closest to Herron are Jay Haas and Mike Weir, who are four shots back at 25-under 263.

Haas, the 36-hole leader after his 61 at the Palmer Course, put up a 68 at La Quinta, where Weir played the last six holes in five under and shot 67.

Said Weir: "It was really a little bit uneventful through the first 12."

Right, and if Weir does that again today, he may get lapped by the field.

Haas isn't in a much different position than last year, when he was the leader after 72 holes but closed with a 74 and ended up 16th. In an attempt not to have that happen again, Haas said he would stop thinking, at least the part about how great it would be for a 49-year-old player to win.

"I've shown so far I can compete with the guys here, so why not?" Haas said.

Because Haas is going to be playing the same course where he shot 61 three days ago, you'd have to say he has as good a shot as anybody.

It also doesn't hurt your confidence when you birdie five holes in a six-hole stretch and chip in from 30 yards out, as Haas did.

"I think [Herron] has to feel that it's not his tournament," Haas said. "He's got to go get it, just like everybody else."

Let the race begin. David Gossett, famous for shooting a 59 at qualifying school, and Chris DiMarco, famous for spreading the gospel of the "claw" putting grip, are next at 24 under, five shots removed from Herron. Gossett and DiMarco posted matching 66s at La Quinta.

From his position, Gossett says there is only one mind-set that's going to work today.

"The temptation is to get ahead and to take a look at the scoreboard," he said. "You're four back, you're six back, you're two back . . . whatever the situation may be, to not get distracted by that."

It might be easier said than done. Stephen Ames slumped to a one-under 71 at Bermuda Dunes and fell from a tie for the lead to a tie for sixth with Michael Campbell.

There are others who harbor faint glimmers of hope. Kenny Perry, whose 63 at Bermuda Dunes was the best round of the day, moved into a tie for eighth with Doug Barron, John Maginnes, Steve Lowery and Pat Perez at 22-under 266.

The cut was at 13 under, which equals the PGA Tour record for a 90-hole tournament, which was set, not coincidentally at all, at last year's Hope.

David Duval didn't make it, despite a 67 at the Palmer Course, his second-round 78 too much to overcome. Bob Tway didn't make it either. As you may recall, Tway was the first-round leader at 63.

Meanwhile, one small success story was Corey Pavin, who shot a 65 at the Palmer Course, eagled the last hole, and stands as the only one to play 72 holes without a bogey. And he's still 12 shots behind. Another would be Paul Azinger, dead last after 54 holes, who wound up at two under with his 66 at Indian Wells, although he still missed the cut.

As for Herron, no one is quite sure what to expect, even Herron. He hasn't won in four years, but he appears to be reversing that trend this week. Herron bogeyed the first hole at Indian Wells and even stubbed his chip, but from No. 5 through No. 16, he had eight birdies, including a 25-foot birdie putt at the 8th and another one at the 10th.

There is a possibility of some wind today for the last round, and that could make the course play tougher, which would be something different.

Herron says he thinks he's going to be ready.

"All you can do is try to look positive," he said. "This game will beat you down very quickly. You know, 'One more round, I'm playing well.' And when you're playing well, it's actually a very fun sport."

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