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Huston shows how easy this game can be

Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published October 27, 2002

PINE MOUNTAIN, Ga. -- The course was playing so easy John Huston tried to birdie every hole, and he wound up with a share of the lead at the Buick Challenge.

Despite missing several relatively short putts for birdie and one for eagle, Huston, a Clearwater resident whose six PGA Tour victories include the 2000 Tampa Bay Classic, matched his best round on tour with 11-under 61. That left him tied with Tim Herron and wondering how low he could have gone Saturday.

"It was still a really good round," Huston said. "You just can't let up. I was trying to keep the pedal to the metal and keep going, knowing that everyone else was playing under easy conditions."

Huston and Herron (65), a second-round co-leader, were at 20-under 196, setting the 54-hole tournament record. Huston's 61 was one off the course record by Steve Lowery in 1997.

The leaders were among a dozen to shoot 65 or better on the soggy Mountain View course at Callaway Gardens. The average score was 68.2. "I feel like I've just shot par," second-round co-leader Craig Parry said after his 66, which left him one stroke out of the lead at 197 and tied with David Toms (63).

Huston had no idea 61 was in the cards when he started, especially after missing a 6-footer for birdie on No. 1 and a 2-footer on the second hole. The rest of his round was such a blur he couldn't remember what clubs he hit to the greens, only that putts kept going in. He made six birdies in a row, starting on No. 3, to get into contention, and chipped in from 40 feet on the 14th.

NINE BRIDGES CLASSIC: Se Ri Pak missed a chance to run away from the field, shooting 4-over 76 in windy conditions to maintain a three-stroke lead in the LPGA Tour event at Jeju Island, South Korea.

The South Korean star, coming off a victory two weeks ago in the Tournament of Champions, was the only player under par after two rounds but couldn't find her touch in the third round.

"I'm very unhappy," said Pak, who had double bogey, three bogeys and one birdie a day after shooting 65 in calm conditions at the Club at Nine Bridges. "I thought an even-par round would be good in such windy conditions, and for tomorrow, it's the same."

Grace Park, a two-time winner in three seasons on tour, was the only player to break par, shooting 71 to jump from a tie for 22nd to second. Annika Sorenstam, seeking her 10th LPGA title this year, was five back after a second straight 73. Tampa's Nancy Scranton shot 80 and was nine back, and Valrico's Beth Bauer shot 81 and was 16 behind.

SENIOR TOUR CHAMPIONSHIP: Tom Watson used an eagle and excellent putting to shoot 6-under 66 and take a share of the lead after three rounds at Oklahoma City. Watson and Gil Morgan (69) were tied at 9-under 207 in the season-ending event. Second-round leader Hale Irwin shot 73 for 210. Irwin must finish fourth or better to become the first senior to win $3-million in one season.

MADRID OPEN: Padraig Harrington continued his bid to become the European PGA Tour's top money winner by taking the lead with a second straight 5-under 66 for 16-under 197. He wins the money title if he earns $52,800 more than Retief Goosen, who was five back after 67. Harrington began the third round tied with Trevor Immelman, who shot 68.

BUY.COM CHAMPIONSHIP: Jeff Klauk was 2 under for 12 holes and held a two-stroke lead at 9 under in the suspended third round in Prattville, Ala., with most of the 16 leaders still on the course. Klauk was 9 under overall when play was stopped because of rain and lightning. Arron Oberholser and Patrick Moore, the top two players on the money list, were tied for second. Oberholser shot 66 for 7-under 209, and Moore had four holes to play. Second-round lead Jay Delsing was 4 over through 12 holes.

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