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Huston fighting off back pain

By BOB HARIG

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 17, 2000


PALM HARBOR -- John Huston is putting one foot in front of the other, slowly. Back pain that forced him to withdraw from last week's Invensys Classic in Las Vegas is the reason.

Huston played a practice round Monday morning at the Westin Innisbrook Resort, site of this week's Tampa Bay Classic, an event he has been looking forward to since it was announced. Huston lives in Safety Harbor.

The back injury surfaced nine days ago during the final round of the Michelob Championship in Williamsburg, Va.

"That one day it was cold and it just got worse as the day went on," Huston said. "I didn't play very well, then got right on the plane and went to Las Vegas. By the time I got there, (my back) was pretty bad. In the past when I've had back trouble, after a couple of days it's been pretty good. But I hit some balls before the (first) round. ... With this week coming up and Disney (for the National Car Rental Golf Classic next week) coming up, I'd rather play these two, then worry about trying to get around out there."

Huston got off to a fast start this season, but has played sparingly in the last two months. He is 35th on the PGA Tour money list with $1,114,695. He went over the $1-million mark at the U.S. Open in June.

A strong tournament this week and next week in Orlando could get Huston in the Tour Championship, reserved for the top 30 money-winners. He trails 30th-place Scott Hoch by about $180,000.

A FEW LESS, A FEW MORE: Monday was a good day to practice on Innisbrook's Copperhead course because most of the field for this week's tournament had not arrived. There were 32 players from the 144-player field registered. And there were some who originally committed who dropped out.

Tom Byrum had been on the bubble for keeping his PGA Tour card, in 125th position. But with a ninth-place finish in Las Vegas, he moved to 103rd on the money list. He withdrew Monday, along with Michael Clark II and David Sutherland.

Taking their place in the field are Aaron Bengoechea, Brent Schwarzrock and Keith Nolan.

ANDRADE'S ASCENSION: Billy Andrade offers excellent proof for PGA players that sometimes all it takes is one good week.

Before the Invensys Classic, Andrade had missed 17 of 27 cuts and had just four finishes among the top 25. The three-time tour winner was 159th on the money list and faced a return to the Qualifying Tournament.

But he won the tournament. Not only did he receive $765,000 to push him to 43rd on the money list, but he received a two-year tour exemption. Andrade won the 1991 JCPenney Classic at Innisbrook with Kris Tschetter.

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