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Third 72 lifts Code into tie for second

The Chamberlain junior sits two shots off of the lead entering today's final round of the Rolex Tournament of Champions.

By JOHN SCHWARB

© St. Petersburg Times,
published July 13, 2001


PALM HARBOR -- Mallory Code says her game is just a little off and not quite capable of attacking a tough course.

But even in a fight to defend one of the most prestigious titles in junior golf, her "B" game might be enough.

The Chamberlain junior shot a third consecutive round of 72 Thursday, good for a piece of second place entering today's final round of the AJGA Rolex Tournament of Champions at Innisbrook Resort.

University of Texas signee Lisa Ferrero of Lodi, Calif., also shot 72 to move into first place with an even-par total of 214. Second-round leader Erica Blasberg of Corona, Calif., shot 75 to fall into second place with Code at 2-over 216.

Skies finally cooperated Thursday, but late-morning winds and the well-saturated soil led to higher scores at the Copperhead course. Only two of the 82 boys and girls broke par, and only four managed even-par 71.

Code's day included birdies on the first and 18th holes and three bogeys in between.

"I really don't think I'm hitting it well enough to go after pins," said Code, who won the 2000 Rolex in California. "I think my plan (today) is going to be play it safe, center of the greens, and go from there.

"I'm still working on a couple of things. You've got to play with what you've got."

Ferrero also carded two birdies and three bogeys during her round and put herself in position to win her second major junior title in less than a year. Last August, she won the U.S. Girls Junior Amateur Championship at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club in Oregon.

"I feel like I'm playing well going into the last day," Ferrero said.

Brittany Lincicome of Pinellas Park shot 73 for a three-day total of 223, tied for 13th. And Mallory Code's older sister, Whitney, shot 74 for a three-day total of 227, tied for 21st.

The boys competition appears set for a showdown between the top two players in the Golfweek/Titleist rankings.

Second-ranked Kevin Na of Diamond Bar, Calif., shot 72 to move into the lead at 5-under 209, jumping ahead of top-ranked Casey Wittenberg of Memphis, Tenn., who slipped to second with 74.

Ben Goforth and Webb Simpson, both from North Carolina, are four back of the lead at 1-under 213.

Wittenberg, the second-round leader after shooting a tournament-low 66 at Copperhead, fell out of the top spot during a four-hole stretch on the back nine. At the par-4 12th, Wittenberg bogeyed while Na sank a 15-foot putt for birdie. Na added another birdie at the par-3 13th.

Then Witternberg three-putted from 4 feet on the par-5 15th. But Wittenberg failed to dwell on the hiccup and considered himself still in control from second place.

"I'm only two shots back. I'm not worried about (the field)," said the 16-year-old, who trains at the Leadbetter Academy in Bradenton. "(Na) has to worry about me. He knows I didn't play my best golf today."

Na, on the other hand, said he believes he can put an end to Wittenberg's plans early if he gets out to a fast start.

"I think my plan is not to try to keep that lead. My plan is to extend the lead on the front nine," Na said.

"Maybe get another two shots so the guys will say "I've got no chance."'

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