tampabay.com

Chopra itches to be in hunt today

By RODNEY PAGE
Published October 30, 2005


PALM HARBOR - Daniel Chopra has never won on the PGA Tour. Now in his second season, the closest Chopra has come is a tie for fourth at the Deutsche Bank Championship in 2004, and that was when Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh blew away the field.

Chopra would like to experience what it's like to be in the hunt on the back nine of a PGA tournament. He has won twice on the Nationwide Tour and once on the Asian Tour, but never on golf's premier tour.

Today could be that day. Chopra shot a second straight 3-under 68 Saturday and was three shots off the lead.

"I'd like to have an opportunity," Chopra said. "I'd like to be within a shot or two of the lead teeing off on No. 10. I'd like to have that feeling that with a putt or two I could win. I've never really experienced that out here."

He has experienced just about everything else. Chopra, 31, was born in Stockholm, Sweden, and moved to India to live with his grandparents when he was 7. He has played all over the world, usually for little money. He was the first person to hit a golf ball off the Great Wall of China.

But last season he played well enough to finish 108th on the money list to retain his card. This season he is 100th on the money list and in no danger of losing his card.

He doesn't have to worry about money, which is a nice problem to have.

"It's tough when you play this game without any money in your pocket," Chopra said. "You love it so dearly and you want to play again and again and again. But you need money to play."

HOPING TO START STRONG: Davis Love has not played well on the front nine this event. Saturday, Love double-bogied the par-4 third hole on his way to a 1-over 37 on the front nine.

He realizes a good start on the front could mean a run at the championship.

"It is key for me to get off to a good start," Love said. "If you get rolling, it doesn't play that hard. But if you're trying to get up and down on every hole it starts to look impossible. There aren't a lot of gimmes on the front nine."

BEWARE, GATOR: Carl Pettersson got a good look at the alligator that hangs out by Copperhead's third hole. While it didn't bother him, he said it was a good thing for the gator that fellow tour player Darren Clarke wasn't in the field.

"He'd have gotten a few shoes and belt out of it," Pettersson cracked.

TOP 10 DROUGHT: Dan Forsman was tied for 10th at 3-under 210. If he finishes in the top 10 it will be his first top-10 finish since a tie for sixth at the 2003 Chrysler Championship, a span of 43 tournaments.

CRESTOR CHARITY CHALLENGE: As the leaders after 54 holes, Pettersson and Steve Lowery were the winners of the Crestor Charity Challenge. The challenge is a seasonlong competition that rewards the leaders after 54 holes on all 35 PGA Tour events. The winnings, which are $50,000 at the Chrysler Championship, will be donated to Academy Prep's Health and Nutrition Programs.