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Janzen feels good, still can't get a win

By BOB HARIG

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 8, 2001


If you consider Tiger Woods' winless season to date a slump, what do you call what Lee Janzen is enduring?

Janzen probably would be mighty satisfied to have Woods' record to date, even without a victory. Woods at least makes cuts, contends, gives himself a chance. Janzen, a two-time U.S. Open champion, does little of the above.

That was the case again last weekend at the Genuity Championship. The former Lakeland resident was 10 under through two rounds, within striking distance of the lead, then imploded with a third-round 77.

"If I had half the money I've given away on Saturdays and Sundays the past five years, I'd be rich," Janzen said. "I seem to have done this way too often over the past few years. I felt so good about my game. ... To be honest, I just didn't see this coming."

Who could envision going nearly three years with hardly a chance to win?

Janzen played one of the grittiest final rounds in stealing the 1998 U.S. Open from Payne Stewart at the Olympic Club. On a day hardly anyone could sniff par, Janzen shot 2-under 68. He had his second U.S. Open, his name in the history books. He had his eighth tour victory, not bad before Woods distorted our outlook.

Now what?

Janzen hasn't won since. Last year he had just two top 10s and his worst finish on the money list (62nd) since 1991. His best finish was sixth at the Tampa Bay Classic, which was opposite the Presidents Cup.

He has had just one legitimate chance at victory, at the '99 Canadian Open. Janzen was in contention but shot a final-round 76.

Janzen attributes most of his woes to putting. He ranked 69th last year.

"I certainly haven't had the yips, but I have not putted like I did before," said Janzen, who lives in Orlando. "I think it's coming back. I'm rolling the ball at the hole. I still seem to be lipping out, but that's a lot better than missing."

The result is the same, however, if the ball is not at the bottom of the cup. Janzen is simply taking too many strokes before plucking the ball out. After missing the cut in his first three tournaments, Janzen finished tied for 40th at the Bob Hope and tied for 21st at Doral.

"You can look at what I've done ... but I know I'm playing very well," Janzen said. "I feel as good about my game as I have at any time in the last three years. It's just a matter of confidence."

And slumps are just a matter of perspective.

MORE SLUMPS: David Duval has a lot going on in his life. He's engaged to be married, for one. He's also embroiled in controversy with his former equipment company, Titleist, which is suing him for breach of contract.

Duval abruptly ended his deal with Titleist to sign with Nike. And he suggested that one reason he has taken a public relations hit is nobody in the golf publication industry wants to take on Titleist.

"If you think of some of the advertising dollars that's spent in those magazines, maybe some of that threat is swaying opinion in those magazines," Duval said.

By the way, Duval has not finished among the top 50 in his past two tournaments, and he missed the cut in the two previous.

BACK TO AUGUSTA: Joe Durant is looking forward to a return trip to the Masters. He qualified in 1999 but was hampered by a broken rib that caused him to shoot 87-79 and miss the cut.

"I played horrible, and it was embarrassing. But by the same token, it was the greatest week of my life," said Durant, who won the Genuity Championship on Sunday and qualified for a return trip. "It was something I had dreamed about, and nothing was going to keep me out because I never knew if I would be back there again. So I certainly would not miss it the one chance I had."

LONG BALL: Jason Zuback, a four-time world long drive champion, will give an exhibition at 11 a.m. Saturday at Mangrove Bay during the course's annual Club Day. Zuback's swing has been clocked at 150 mph. His longest drive in competition is 463 yards. Club Day begins at 9 a.m. and will include a putting contest, merchandise porch and representatives of several major manufacturers.

AROUND GOLF: Two-time Masters champion Bernhard Langer of Germany said he plans to spend more time in the United States at his Boca Raton home. "I'm tired of flying 10 times across the Atlantic," said Langer, who estimates he'll be in Florida 10 months a year. ... Beware duffel bags. Durant said his injury in 1999 was due to throwing a duffel bag over a shoulder. Stephen Ames had to withdraw from the Genuity Championship on Sunday after doing the same thing. He threw a duffel bag over a shoulder Saturday night and injured his ribs.

-- Information from other news organizations was used in this report.

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