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Clearwater's Huston happy with best finish in two years

By BOB HARIG, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published March 18, 2002

ORLANDO -- While bemoaning his fate on some of the most difficult greens he has seen, Clearwater's John Huston also was pleased with the way he played Sunday during the final round of the Bay Hill Invitational.

Huston didn't win, finishing five strokes behind winner Tiger Woods, but his tie for third was his best finish since winning the 2000 Tampa Bay Classic.

"It's pretty much a miracle I finished as well as I did," said Huston, who shot 72 and earned $192,000. "It's not something where you can try to play aggressive and try to chase him down. But I'm pleased with the way I played. I got it around well."

Huston heads into this week's Players Championship ranked 35th on the PGA Tour money list with $379,555.

TASTE OF BOTH TOURS: New Zealand's Michael Campbell finished second to Woods, his best finish in a PGA Tour event. Campbell, who plays around the world and is a member of the European PGA Tour, finished third at the 1995 British Open. He shot 71 and earned $432,000, meaning he could become a PGA Tour member if he plays enough events.

"I really enjoy both tours," he said. "I enjoy the culture, all of the different type of things in Europe. And obviously the place to be is to be here and play golf. The money is a lot better, and the guys I play against are slightly stronger. There are pros and cons on both tours."

A NEW ARMY?: When Peter Jacobsen realized he would be teeing off first Sunday without a playing partner, he made a request for a non-competing marker: Arnold Palmer's grandson.

Palmer, the Bay Hill tournament host and a longtime friend of Jacobsen's, was thrilled by the gesture. And Sam Saunders, his grandson, did not disappoint.

Saunders, 14, in eighth grade at the First Academy in Orlando, didn't hole every putt but would have scored in the low to mid 80s.

"I was a little overwhelmed," he said. "But it was such a good opportunity. The only thing better would have been if my granddad could have played with me."

Palmer, 72, who on Friday said he likely would not play in the Bay Hill tournament in the future, followed Saunders around on a golf cart. "He's got a lot of maturing to do," he said. "But that was a good experience. Sam is the first one (in the family) to really pursue golf. We're looking forward to watching him. I hope I can hang around."

HARD HOLE: The par-3 17th hole, which measures 219 yards, is the fifth most difficult hole on tour this season. The hole played to an average of 3.331 and is the hardest par 3 on tour this season. "You couldn't hit the green," Huston said.

"I don't think I've ever seen a par-3 that was more impossible to hit the green, let alone miss it somewhere near the pin. Making a four there is probably pretty close to making a par."

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