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After 72 Holes, Chad's Hanging In There

Campbell's lead in the desert is cut to one after Verplank shoots a 64. The final round is up in the air at the often windy Classic Club.

January 22, 2006|Thomas Bonk | Times Staff Writer

Because the new Classic Club is where they're playing today's last round of the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, there's always a chance that some players are going to get the wind knocked out of them.

Here is what we have learned so far, after four days and 72 holes: If the wind blows in this on-and-off wind tunnel at the Hope's new course in Palm Desert, scores can soar like a bad blood pressure reading; and if it isn't blowing, it's still hard to find a typically low Hope score.

Tell that to Jesper Parnevik. It wasn't windy Saturday at the Classic Club, he shot a 10-under-par 62 in the fourth round ... and he's still seven shots behind Chad Campbell.

And so the pros' adjustment period for the Classic Club is over, Campbell said.

"We adjust pretty quick to courses," said Campbell, who shot a 67 to move to 24-under 264 and leads Scott Verplank by one shot. "You know, without any wind out here, you can make some birdies. The guys [at the Classic Club] on Wednesday and Thursday kind of got the bad end of the deal with the wind blowing so hard. It was a totally different course that we played [Saturday]."

The course and the wind may be the biggest questions today, not whether Campbell can win for the first time in two years or whether Verplank can win for the first time in five years or whether somebody like John Senden can win for the first time since, well, the 1998 Alliance Open on the European Tour.

Phil Mickelson and Justin Rose are the only others within six shots. Mickelson played Bermuda Dunes, the easiest of the Hope's four courses, and turned in a five-under 67 that was probably sort of disappointing.

Mickelson enters the final round of his first tournament of the year at 18-under 270. And while that sounds strong, it might be too much ground to make up at the expense of Campbell.

Verplank birdied the last hole at Bermuda Dunes, finished with a 64 and cut Campbell's 54-hole lead from four shots to one. He had nine birdies and only one bogey, when he knocked it into a bunker at the par-three 17th.

Verplank was hitting the ball so close that he didn't have to make a birdie putt longer than six feet.

Senden began the day four shots behind Campbell and he's still four shots behind. He birdied the last two holes for a 67 at the Classic Club.

"I'm thinking someone needs to go out there and put a bit of pressure on him," said Senden, who tied for sixth at the Hope last year for his best PGA Tour finish.

"He may be thinking about what happened last week, and he really wants to try hard to get it done this week."

Campbell was tied with David Toms after three rounds last week at the Sony Open, but finished with a 70 and wound up in a tie for second when Toms closed with a 65.

Verplank said he doesn't think Campbell will be rattled by his near miss a week ago.

"I would sure think he would take confidence that he's been right up around the lead all year," Verplank said.

No matter the pressure, Campbell said he would rather start any last round with a one-shot lead than play from behind. Then he corrected himself.

"I'd like to have about a 10-shot lead," he said.

Campbell might have had a slightly larger one, but he played the last eight holes in even par. His key all week has been to attack the par-five holes, and Campbell was three under on four par fives Saturday. Over 72 holes, he's a total of 15 under on the par fives.

Verplank said that if the weather is good today, the winner is going to have to make his share of birdies.

"That's regardless of what day it is and what golf course you're playing," Verplank said.

Rose, who had a 66 at the Classic Club, is tied with Mickelson at 270, one shot ahead of Mike Weir, Rory Sabbatini, Parnevik, Olin Browne, Jeff Maggert and John Huston. They're all within seven shots of Campbell, and Verplank said it wouldn't be wise to leave anybody out who is within shouting distance.

"One of those guys could tear it up," he said. "Anything can happen."

Campbell's last victory was at the 2004 Bay Hill. He started 2005 ranked 18th, but he was 38th until he tied with Sabbatini for second last week. Campbell is 30th now and looking to improve on that.

"That's important, not necessarily just my ranking, just playing good, and then everything will take care of itself. I just want to contend for tournaments and hopefully come out on top some. You know, my main goal is to make the Ryder Cup team.

"I think I have the ability to win. You know, to me it feels like Bay Hill has been a long time, so I'm ready to get another one."

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

Leaderboard

Fourth-round leaders at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic in Palm Desert, played on the Classic Club (c), Palmer Private (p), La Quinta (q) and Bermuda Dunes (b) courses (all courses par 72):

LEADERS

Chad Campbell...63b-66q-68p-67c--264

Scott Verplank...68q-68p-65c-64b--265

John Senden...70q-63p-68c-67b--268

Phil Mickelson...66q-69p-68c-67b--270

Justin Rose...70b-70q-64p-66c--270

Mike Weir...67b-69q-69p-66c--271

Rory Sabbatini...71c-68b-68q-64p--271

Jesper Parnevik...69b-69q-71p-62c--271

Jeff Maggert...67q-71p-69c-64b--271

John Huston...65b-71q-68p-67c--271

Olin Browne...65b-69q-71p-66c--271

*

OTHERS

Steve Elkington...64q-70p-71c-67b--272

Paul Azinger...71b-69q-67p-69c--276

Mark Calcavecchia...69c-68b-72q-68p--277

Justin Leonard...67b-72q-67p-71c--277

Corey Pavin...73c-70b-69q-67p--279

David Duval...69p-78c-69b-64q--280

Fred Couples...69p-71c-68b-72q--280

Jeff Sluman...74q-73p-67c-67b--281

Mark O'Meara...69p-74c-70b-68q--281

Lee Janzen...71c-65b-68q-78p--282

Davis Love III...73q-69p-76c-68b--286

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