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Huston can't get it going in his title defense

By JOHN SCHWARB and BOB HARIG

© St. Petersburg Times, published September 22, 2002


PALM HARBOR -- On the fourth hole Saturday, John Huston's approach shot found the greenside bunker and a patch of sand that he said looked like something from a child's sandbox.

PALM HARBOR -- On the fourth hole Saturday, John Huston's approach shot found the greenside bunker and a patch of sand that he said looked like something from a child's sandbox.

In other words, the bounces have not gone his way this time.

The Tampa Bay Classic defending champion shot a ho-hum 1-under 71 in his third round to get to 2 under for the tournament, 12 behind and well back of where he imagined on a course the Clearwater resident knows inside and out.

"I haven't played terrible but I haven't quite, you know, got going," he said. "I'm obviously trying very hard to do my best here, I just can't get that momentum."

Two years ago in winning at the Copperhead Course at the Westin Innisbrook Resort, Huston shot three rounds in the 60s and won by three at 13-under 271. This time he is 69-72-70.

His third round included four birdies but double bogey at the par-4 ninth and the bizarre bogey at the fourth from the bunker.

"For whatever reason, it looked like somebody had been playing in there," Huston said. "Instead of having a very easy bunker shot, I had a buried lie and made bogey. I don't know how that got by whoever was taking care of the golf course on No. 4."

DUKING IT OUT: Ken Duke has a chance to make his biggest check of the year, but he said that isn't pressure. The pressure was Monday, trying to earn the chance to make a check.

Duke, a 33-year-old Boca Raton resident exempt only on the Canadian Tour, made it into the Tampa Bay Classic through the Monday qualifier at Fox Hollow. Of the four qualifiers, only Duke made the cut.

"I've been playing really well the last couple weeks," said Duke, who shot a third-round 71 and was 1 under for the tournament. "This golf course just isn't giving up a lot of birdies."

Duke has played in four other PGA Tour qualifiers this year, succeeding in two but missing cuts in the Genuity Championship at Doral in Miami and at the U.S. Open. He was 13th on this year's Canadian Tour money list with $43,414.

He might make that much if he goes low today.

"I have the game I think to play on this tour, I just have to get through qualifying school," he said.

RYDER REVIEW: Hal Sutton's preparation for this week's Ryder Cup appears to be progressing, as he shot 3-under 68 that could have been even better.

Sutton started on the 10th hole and shot 30 on the back side with five birdies. On his second nine he had birdie, bogey and double bogey (on No. 6) despite hitting what he said were two perfect shots.

"I could have shot 62 or 63 today," Sutton said.

Cup teammate Stewart Cink shot 1-over 72 and is 2 over.

PERSPECTIVE: Ty Tryon, 18, was paired with PGA Tour veteran Jay Haas in the third round. Haas, 48, a nine-time tour winner, was in his eighth full season when Tryon was born in 1974. In 1999, at the American Junior Golf Association's Junior Golf Classic at the Walt Disney World Resort, Tryon competed against Haas' son, Bill, a semifinalist in this year's U.S. Amateur who plays at Wake Forest.

"He showed a lot out there," Haas said of Tryon, who shot 72. "He didn't have his A game, but he hung in there. You have to learn to turn 75 or 76 into 72, and that's what he did."

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