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Golf

Els, Choi race past the field

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 12, 2003


KAPALUA, Hawaii -- One bad swing kept Ernie Els from a runaway Saturday in the Mercedes Championships, and a record round by K.J. Choi gave last year's Tampa Bay Classic champion a fighting chance.

Despite double bogey on the 17th hole, Els shot 8-under 65 in breezy conditions for a two-stroke lead going into today's final round of the season-opening PGA Tour event.

Choi broke the Plantation Course record with 11-under 62, but that didn't seem to do much good until a few lapses by Els at the end.

Els lead by five when he was caught between clubs on the 17th tee. He opted for a 3-wood, swung too hard and hooked it into a hazard, a shot that led to double bogey.

Els was at 25-under 194, tying the tour's 54-hole record in relation to par. Gay Brewer was 25 under through three rounds of the 1967 Pensacola Open.

Els and Choi have more records within reach. The tournament record is 26-under 266, set by David Duval in 1999. The tour record in relation to par is 28 under, set two years ago by Mark Calcavecchia in the Phoenix Open.

And it appeared to be a two-man race: Retief Goosen shot 66 to move into third, seven shots back.

SOUTH AFRICAN OPEN: Jean Hugo shot 7-under 65 for a one-stroke lead at 204 in Cape Town. Defending champion and second-round leader Tim Clark (71) blew a lead with quadruple-bogey 9 at the 16th and dropped into a tie for second with Phil Golding (64).

Huston, partner buy their second course

PGA Tour pro John Huston of Clearwater and a partner have purchased the Lost Oaks of Innisbrook course in East Lake, restored its old name and slightly lowered prices.

The deal for the 18-hole course, originally named Tarpon Woods Country Club and now reverting to that name, is expected to be completed Monday, Huston said.

Huston and partner Greg McClimans, a long-time area golf pro, run H&M Investments. They also own the Clearwater Executive Course near the Clearwater Airpark.

Huston and McClimans purchased the 28-year-old course from Golf Trust of America and Starwood Capital, the owners of Westin Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor. Innisbrook bought it in October 1997 and made improvements to the clubhouse and restaurant.

A purchase price was not disclosed.

"It just seemed like the right place at the right time," said Huston, a six-time PGA Tour winner who begins his 16th tour season this week at the Sony Open in Hawaii. "My parents live out there, my sister lives close by. ... We need to update the greens, make it a nice place and open it up to the people who live there."

The course, which offers memberships and daily-fee play, is located at 1100 Tarpon Woods Blvd. off East Lake Road. Huston said all 18 greens will be resurfaced, perhaps nine holes at a time, maybe as early as this summer.

AMATEUR WOMEN: Seminole's Brittany Lincicome, the state high school Class 2A champion, moved into second place behind Bradenton's Aree Wongluekiet in the Harder Hall Women's Amateur in Sebring. Lincicome was at 222 (74-72-76), four back.

-- Times staff writer Bob Harig and Times correspondent Dave Theall contributed to this report.

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