Saturday, February 1, 2003

Herron grabs share of Hope lead after 61


Winless Ames also keeps torrid pace at 22-under par

The Associated Press

LA QUINTA, Calif. - Tim Herron, putter in hand, was in the zone. "Today, I just kind of had it. The hole looked like a bucket," Herron said Friday after his 11-under-par 61 tied him with Stephen Ames for the Bob Hope Classic lead.

"It's my lowest score ever. I've had three 62s. I had no idea, really, what I shot today. I was just trying to make every putt I looked at."

Herron, a three-time winner since coming onto the tour in 1996 and known as "Lumpy" for his physique, began on the back nine at PGA West and birdied his first three holes, including rolling in a 40-foot putt on the 207-yard, par-3 No. 12.

He was 5 under after his first nine holes, then made six birdie putts, the longest a 15-footer, on the back nine for a 30 as he shot the third 61 of the tournament.

He and Ames, who had a 64, were at 22-under 194 after 54 holes in the five-day event.

Herron's 11-under round came a day after Jay Haas and Pat Perez had 61s.

Haas, the 1988 Hope champion, had a third-round 67 and was just a stroke behind the co-leaders. Perez, however, had a 70 that dropped him six strokes off the pace and into a group at 16-under.

Herron, 32, is looking for his first win since taking the Bay Hill Invitational in 1999. His other victories came in the 1996 Honda Classic and the 1997 Texas Open.

He tied for 56th last week in Phoenix and tied for 40th in the Sony Open the previous week.

Ames, who joined the tour full time in 1988 and is still winless, keyed his round with accurate iron play, sticking the ball within 10 feet of the pin six times.

Both Mike Weir and Rod Pampling had 65s that left them at 20 under. David Gossett shot a 9-under 62 at Indian Wells, another of the four courses used for the first four days of the tournament.

Defending champion Phil Mickelson, far back in the pack after shooting a 70 the first day and a 68 the second, had a third-round 63 to go to 15 under.

He played at Indian Wells, where Franklin's Frank Lickliter II and Chris Riley also had 63s.

Lickliter went to 16 under and Riley to 15 under.

HEINEKEN CLASSIC

MELBOURNE, Australia - Nick Faldo moved into position for his first victory since 1997, shooting a 7-under 65 Saturday to take a one-stroke into the final round of the Heineken Classic.

The 45-year-old Englishman, a six-time major champion, had an 11-under 205 total on the Royal Melbourne course. Australia's Peter Lonard (67), Sweden's Niclas Fasth (68) and England's Paul Casey (74) were tied for second.

"It will be great to go out and show them that there's still plenty of the old Faldo in me," said Faldo, winless since the PGA Tour's 1997 Nissan Open. "I'll go and do the best job I can."

Faldo, who announced Saturday that wife Valerie is expecting the couple's first child, said he was inspired by the 66 that Ernie Els shot early Saturday to move into contention.

"I saw Ernie was making a really good run," Faldo said. "Then I eagled nine and started thinking I had a great round going."

Faldo birdied the first three holes and made the turn at 5 under with a 40-foot eagle putt on the ninth. He also birdied Nos. 10 and 16, and just missed another on No. 18.

"The last couple of days I tripped up on the back nine, so I was concentrating hard on hitting the shots where I wanted to and playing smart," Faldo said. "So I played safe a few times but I generally hit it where I intended."

Faldo said historic Royal Melbourne inspires him.

"This is one of the greats," Faldo said. "It doesn't get much better than this."

England's Steve Webster (70) and David Lynn (73) are two strokes back, and Els, going after his third win of the year, was three shots behind at 8-under 208.

"Tee to green I was back to where I was a couple of weeks ago," Els said. "My rhythm and everything started to fall into place. Unfortunately I missed some putts on the back nine and it wasn't a very nice way to finish.

"One thing that is nice about early tee times is that we had fresh greens and good conditions. We took advantage of that."

Greg Norman shot a 69 for a 5-under 211 total.




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