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Gary Woodland, Jhonattan Vegas retain lead at PGA Tour's Bob Hope Classic

They shoot matching 66s and, at 24 under par through four rounds, are two strokes ahead of Martin Laird. Defending champion Bill Haas makes a big move with a 62 and is in a group three shots behind the leader.

January 22, 2011|By Diane Pucin
  • Gary Woodland celebrates after making an eagle putt on the sixth hole during the fourth round of the Bob Hope Classic at the PGA West's Palmer Private course on Saturday.
Gary Woodland celebrates after making an eagle putt on the sixth hole during… (Jeff Gross / Getty Images )

Reporting from La Quinta — Gary Woodland and Jhonattan Vegas came to the same place again Saturday, as co-leaders of the Bob Hope Classic for the second day in a row.

They just arrived in different ways. And they may not want to look behind them either.

Woodland played steady golf, with only one bogey that was more than erased by a magnificent eagle, and shot six-under-par 66 Saturday on the Palmer Private course. Vegas, the first and only PGA Tour player from Venezuela, shot 66 at La Quinta, a round that included four bogeys but also five birdies in his last five holes.

The pair are at 264, 24 under par, for the 90-hole event that ends Sunday with everybody playing the Palmer Private course. They have a two-shot lead on Scotland's Martin Laird, who shot a six-under 66 on the Nicklaus Private course.

Making a big move Saturday was defending champion Bill Haas, who had a 10-under 62 on the Palmer course. That low score of the day put Haas in a group of four, along with Daniel Summerhays, Chris Kirk and Keegan Bradley, who are tied for fourth and three shots behind the leaders.

Bradley is the 24-year-old nephew of LPGA Hall of Famer Pat Bradley and is playing only his second PGA Tour event. He had a six-under 66 Saturday on the SilverRock course and afterward said he and his aunt are text messaging buddies. "She gives good advice," Bradley said.

Among notables who missed the cut of 10-under 278 were 2009 British Open champion Stewart Cink and Bubba Watson, who was the second-highest ranked golfer in the field of 128. Matt Kuchar, the highest-ranked, at No. 13, is still in contention, sitting at 19 under and with a group that includes second-round co-leader Boo Weekley.

Woodland's signature moment Saturday was at the 562-yard par-five sixth hole on the Palmer course, Woodland's 15th since he started on the back nine. The eagle three came after a 305-yard drive to start the hole and a 33-foot putt to finish.

Afterward, Woodland, a Kansas graduate and a forever fan of Jayhawks basketball, stood disconsolate in front of a television and watched Texas come from behind to hand his No. 2-ranked college team its first loss.

Woodland won four tournaments his senior year at Kansas, all of them coming, he said, when he took a lead into the final round. He said he considered himself a good closer.

"You stay in the moment," Woodland said. "One shot at a time."

Vegas said he was pleased to still be in the lead considering his mixed-up round Saturday.

"I started hitting some crazy shots out there," the 26-year-old said. "I just wasn't swinging the right way, one of those things that happen to a golfer. I didn't feel great the whole day, but I found a way to get it on the greens and made a few putts."

Haas, 28, who owns only one other tour win besides his Hope Classic victory last year, had six birdies in a row Saturday to put himself in position to be only the second player (Johnny Miller is the other) to win back-to-back championships here. His 62 also matched a career-low score.

It probably will take a 64 or lower Sunday for him to win, Haas said. "That's just what it is," he said. "But I like it here in the desert. If I play decent, I'll be fine."

diane.pucin@latimes.com

twitter.com/mepucin

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