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NOTES

Watson Is No Straight Shooter

June 15, 2003|Thomas Bonk | Times Staff Writer

OLYMPIA FIELDS, Ill. — He has no trouble remembering his first round of 65, but Tom Watson wouldn't mind forgetting the 75 he shot Saturday in his 30th U.S. Open.

"It was just a tough day for me," Watson said.

It's not easy at 53 to keep the swing steady for four consecutive days in a major championship, no matter how many times you've played it, Watson said. He hit only eight fairways and knew that wasn't good enough.

"I was trying to steer it instead of making a good swing," Watson said. "I made just a few of them today. That was it."

The problem areas at Olympia Fields are elevated tees, tough pin positions and breezy conditions.

And something else.

"It's the third round here and the fairways just get a little more narrow," he said. "You don't free-wheel it. It's tough."

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Feel good story: Dicky Pride, who shot four-under 66 Saturday and is four-under par after 54 holes, is back on tour after battling gallstone pancreatitis, which can be fatal.

"It's kind of unbelievable, considering a year and a half ago I was sitting in the hospital ... about to die," he said.

Pride enters today's final round only six shots behind leader Jim Furyk.

You call this pressure?

"It's kind of like all gravy," Pride said. "When you go through what I did last year, just being able to play is nice."

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Nick Price, 46, is trying to become the oldest player to win the U.S. Open.

That record is held by Hale Irwin, who won the 1990 U.S. Open at the age of 45 years 15 days.

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Quote of the day is from Trip Kuehne: "I was short and crooked, and that's not a good thing."

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No matter what happens to Colin Montgomerie today, it's still a good weekend for him. At least he's playing golf, which isn't how he has been spending his time lately.

Maybe that's why Monty was in a pleasant, if somewhat subdued, mood Saturday when he completed his third round of 71.

"Missing two cuts in a row in Europe wasn't the best preparation for coming in here, to say the least," Montgomerie said.

What he failed to mention are his missed cuts on the PGA Tour -- five in six stroke-play events.

That's why Montgomerie was blase in characterizing his play. He is tied for 42nd.

"Same day as most days recently -- not particularly good," Montgomerie said. "Nothing untoward, it just wasn't good enough."

In the last six months, Montgomerie's ranking has dropped from 10 to 22.

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Phil Mickelson's winless streak in majors will reach 44. Tied for 27th when the day began, he shot 75 and will start the last round tied for 50th place at five-over 215.

Of the 68 players who made the cut, Mickelson was dead last in fairways hit, tied with amateur Kuehne at 15.

Mickelson played the first four holes in one under and the last 14 in six over.

It was not a good day either for Ricky Barnes, the U.S. Amateur champion, who shot a 79.

"I just kind of lost confidence early," said Barnes, who shot 71 in each of the first two rounds. Kuehne, the only other amateur to make the cut, shot a 76.

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Remember all the way back to the first round and Jay Don Blake's 66? Sure, he came back with a 77 Friday and rebounded a little with a 75 Saturday. But Blake says he has played in pain after getting an unusual neck injury.

"I guess I learned not to sleep on the couch watching TV," he said.

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Give him high marks for honesty. Mark Calcavecchia shot a 67 and is tied for ninth with another veteran, Mark O'Meara, who had a 67.

Calcavecchia is seven shots behind Furyk.

"I have never entertained thoughts of winning this tournament," Calcavecchia said. "I don't see why I should start now."

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Staff Writer Chris Dufresne contributed to this report.

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