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St. Petersburg amateur has helper on his side, lead

Published February 22, 2004

LUTZ - Sometimes there's an art to this format.

Steve Chapman, a 43-year-old St. Petersburg resident, had three triple bogeys and two

double bogeys at the tough TPC of Tampa Saturday in the Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am, but his pro bailed him out on every hole with birdie.

Thanks, Mike McCullough.

"That's where you play together as a team," Chapman said, smiling. "His back's probably pretty sore."

Truth be told, McCullough, two shots off the lead at 8 under after shooting 70, did not completely carry his partner during the second round. Chapman, playing off an 18 handicap, had several pars (net birdies) that helped the pair to a pro-am-leading 21-under-par team score.

The team began today's final round one shot ahead of the team of Tom Purtzer and Outback Steakhouse co-founder Bob Basham and four shots clear of 10 other pairs who survived the 36-hole pro-am cut.

The cut was not so kind to Boca Raton's Richard Bachrodt. He and pro Stewart Ginn were among five groups who were at 15-under-par 127 through two rounds but lost out on the chance to play today through a scorecard playoff.

Many of the tournament's most recognizable amateurs are also out. Actors Chris O'Donnell and Kevin Sorbo failed to qualify, as did country music star Vince Gill and the Buccaneers' Derrick Brooks and Ronde Barber.

But for Chapman, today could be an amateur's dream if he and McCullough hold on to win. Not bad for a first-time pro-am participant.

"I just thought it would be a neat thing to do," said Chapman, CEO of Dupont Publishing and a member of the tournament's board of directors. "Whatever it cost (it was $10,000), I just told my controller to write the check."

The amateur winner gets the Coca-Cola Cup (a crystal vase). Both the amateur and pro get a complimentary Outback card good for a year.

FAMILIAR ROAR: The largest cheer at the 18th green Saturday was not for any pro's shot, but an unlikely par from Brooks.

After taking a drop from a watery tee shot, Brooks hit his third shot to the back of the green. The pin was just nine paces off the front.

Brooks made an undulating 80-foot putt, and the crowd erupted.

"I probably will never hit a putt like that again in my life," said Brooks, who doffed his hat and took high-fives from partner Bruce Fleisher and Tom Kite.

It was a terrific ending to a day that started with a topped tee shot on the first hole that barely reached the women's tee.

Brooks and Fleisher tied for 37th, shooting 66-67-133.

AROUND THE TPC: John Jacobs made a pair of eagles, on the par-5 seventh hole and with a holed 8-iron from 157 yards on the par-4 18th. ... In nine of 12 tournaments held at the course, a player has come from off the pace to win.

HELPFUL HINTS: Former Lakewood High and Florida State star William Floyd, who went on to an NFL career, had the good fortune of being paired with D.A. Weibring, a man with patience. Floyd had never played in a pro-am format.

"What a terrific young guy," Weibring said. "He hasn't played a lot of golf. He kind of struggled off the tee, and (the ball) was in his pocket a lot, but he knew his way around, was very thoughtful, kept cheering us on. He really handled himself very well."

Weibring said that Floyd got himself outfitted with a new set of clubs at a local golf store and even asked the store's owner to caddie for him. It paid off with a spot in today's final round.

Weibring was tied for second, a shot behind leader Mark McNulty. Weibring and Floyd were at 127, 15 under, six shots behind McCullough's team.

[Last modified February 22, 2004, 01:45:26]

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