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Huston finding his lost touch

By BOB HARIG, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 17, 2002


ORLANDO -- John Huston has struggled with his putting this year, and as anyone who follows the PGA Tour knows, professional golfers are rarely content to miss the hole.

ORLANDO -- John Huston has struggled with his putting this year, and as anyone who follows the PGA Tour knows, professional golfers are rarely content to miss the hole.

So Huston, who lives in Clearwater and typically has been solid on the greens, started experimenting.

He tried the belly putter made popular by Paul Azinger and Vijay Singh. He fooled around with the claw grip made popular by Chris DiMarco and Mark Calcavecchia.

Two weeks ago during the final round at the Genuity Championship, Huston tried putting cross-handed. He did it again in the final round at the Honda Classic.

He stuck with it at the Bay Hill Invitational and finally saw some putts drop.

"It kind of squared everything up, and in turn, I'm hitting the putts a lot more solid," said Huston, who was in a five-way tie for third Saturday, two shots behind Tiger Woods. "I just had no rhythm in my stroke at all before and was kind of hitting mis-hits, glancing putts."

YOU SHOWED HIM: Scott McCarron didn't overtake Woods, but he did close the gap by two strokes.

That was better than plenty of folks thought he would do, including Golf Channel analyst Mark Lye, who said so Friday night just as McCarron was about to go on the air with him.

"I don't think Scott McCarron has the fuel or the fire to win this tournament," Lye said.

"I'm standing right there watching him say that 10 feet in front of me before I go on," McCarron said. "Things like that, obviously, fire you up a little bit. I think that's totally uncalled for. To judge what anybody's fire is, I mean they have no idea. I have more fire than anybody right now. I want to win."

KING BOWS OUT ... AGAIN: Arnold Palmer has threatened to quit playing competitive golf before. As recently as last month at the Verizon Classic he said he was leaning toward not playing at Bay Hill, the tournament he has hosted and played since its inception in 1979.

He played, but after opening with 86 and 87 (he didn't turn in his card Friday), the 72-year-old said this was the end of his run in PGA Tour events.

Maybe.

"I think I've played my last Bay Hill," Palmer said. "All things must end."

Palmer, however, has been known to give in to friends, fans and well-wishers who want to see him play no matter what he shoots.

"If you can talk me out of it, then I'll do it," Palmer said.

As for next month's Masters, that is another story. Palmer said it was too soon to decide whether he'll play at Augusta National for the 48th consecutive year.

"That's still a question mark," he said. "Possibly this year, if I could get my game together. But even that is gaining in doubt in my mind."

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