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Locals Kraft and Heintz play to varied extremes

By RODNEY PAGE

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 20, 2000


PALM HARBOR -- For Clearwater's Greg Kraft, playing a PGA event in front of the home crowd was almost surreal. For Palm Harbor's Bob Heintz, it was a little too real.

Kraft, who estimates he has played Innisbrook's Copperhead course 50 times, shot a respectable 1-under 70. Heintz, who attended Countryside High, shot 7-over 78.

"It almost didn't feel like this was a real tournament," said Kraft, who attended the University of Tampa. "I'd played it so many times casually, and then in the JCPenney (mixed tournament) it's a lot more relaxed. I want to play well here badly, but it's weird playing in front of a lot of friends and then sleeping in my own bed."

While Kraft was relaxed, Heintz was disappointed.

"Even though it was at home, I take no joy in how I played," Heintz said. "I think I one-putted once today. I drove the ball quite nicely. The only time I hit a bad drive I made a double. The longest putt I made all day was a 5-footer. It was awful."

Jay Overton, the former head professional at Innisbrook who has his eye on the Senior PGA Tour, shot 76 on his home course.

Tampa native Woody Austin shot 74. Palm Harbor's John Huston was two shots off the pace at 5-under 66.

SPOUSAL PRESSURE: Fred Couples said the determining factor for committing to the Tampa Bay Classic was that his wife wanted to come to Florida. Thais Couples, however, was fogged in at Santa Barbara, Calif., and missed the first round.

"She wanted to go to some warm weather," Couples said. "So I decided (last) Thursday night to come down here. She doesn't come to many tournaments. Then she got fogged in. Hopefully she'll be here (today)."

Couples played last weekend's Invensys Classic in Las Vegas, but his last round before that was Aug. 20 in the PGA Championship. Couples was near the leaders with 4-under 67.

BUBBLE BOY: He is on the edge, walking that fine line between the PGA Tour and qualifying school. Bob Burns is 125th on the official money list with $366,535.

That's a good year for most in the working world, but after 26 events Burns has to stay where he is or improve if he wants to keep his card for 2001. Only the top 125 on the money list at the end of the season are exempt from qualifying for next year.

There are only two official tournaments remaining on the PGA schedule.

"It's just another tournament," Burns said. "I don't worry about any of that. My game's in a transition right now, so I hit some good shots and I hit some bad shots."

Did he ever.

Burns, who started on the back nine, birdied the 11th, eagled the 12th, birdied the 14th and was 4 under after five holes. But then came double bogey on 16 and bogeys on 17 and 18.

There were birdies on 1, 2 and 5, then bogeys on 6 and 7. After all that, Burns ended the day at par 71.

TIRED CHAMPION: It has been a wild week for Billy Andrade, and his opening 74 was proof. Andrade won the Invensys Classic on Sunday, edging Phil Mickelson by a stroke.

He didn't arrive in Palm Harbor until Tuesday night and was unable to play a practice round Wednesday. An admittedly fatigued Andrade was 10 shots off the lead.

"I haven't slept much," Andrade said. "I didn't have a good feel. I was a little flat. I'd hoped to play in the pro am (Wednesday) and I thought I was, but it didn't work out. So today was like my practice round. I didn't know the course at all. That's okay. We'll get them tomorrow."

Andrade can afford to be upbeat. He won $765,000 Sunday.

ONE IN, TWO OUT: Joe Ozaki withdrew after nine holes because of back problems. Because Ozaki started his round, he will not be replaced. Jim McGovern was added late Wednesday when Emlyn Aubrey withdrew because of illness.

EAGLES: Two players, Burns and Couples, eagled the par-4 12th. As part of a promotion, two spectators won laser printers.

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