Confident Couples cruises into Honda Classic lead by one stroke

March 15, 1992

TUCSON, ARIZ. FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. — FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- It was a more confident, comfortable Fred Couples who swept past his old friend and mentor to assume control of the Honda Classic.

A week ago at the Doral Ryder Open, Couples spoke of being intimidated by the veteran Ray Floyd and observed, going into the final round, that "he won't be worried about me, and I'll be worried about him."

Couples, almost certainly the best player in the world over the past nine months, exhibited a different demeanor yesterday after a 7-under-par 65 enabled him to replace Floyd as the leader after three rounds.

There was no talk of intimidation.

"Right now I feel like, not that the game is easy, but I can't play better than I've been playing," Couples said. "So I need to really pay attention to what I'm doing."

The recent record supports his observation.

Couples was runner-up to Floyd last week, won in Los Angeles the week before that, has had only one round over par this year and has won four times in the past nine months.

He has finished sixth or better in 15 of his last 20 worldwide starts.

But he has his work cut out for him going into today's final round of the chase for a $198,000 first prize. Seven players, including Floyd, are within four strokes.

With a 202 total, 14-under on the Weston Hills Country Club course, Couples holds a one-shot lead over Mark Brooks, who shot 64 with a double bogey. Brooks also had an eagle and eight birdies.

Blaine McCallister is another shot back at 204 after a 68. Floyd, the 36-hole leader, slipped to a 71 and is tied at 205 with Greg Hickman and Corey Pavin. Hickman shot 67, Pavin 70.

They are followed at 206 by Fuzzy Zoeller, with a 69, and Keith Clearwater, 70.

Floyd, who last week became the oldest player in 17 years to score a PGA Tour victory, dropped three shots back in this one with after a struggling finish.

"Subconsciously you keep thinking you've got to have one of these rounds, so now I hope that I have that behind me," he said.

"I'm still in position to win the tournament. Three shots is not insurmountable."

A weak finish, however, made his task considerably more daunting.

Floyd missed a 4 1/2 -foot par putt on the 14th, missed a 12-foot birdie putt on the 15th, one-putted to save par on the 16th, then bogeyed the 17th after jerking a 2-iron far to the left of the green.

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"I seemed to be between clubs all day long," Floyd said.

Ping-Welch's Championship

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Beth Daniel birdied the first three holes and shot a 5-under-par 67 to extend her lead to four strokes after three rounds.

Daniel was at 11-under 205 after 54 holes. That left her comfortably ahead of Pat Bradley, Dale Eggeling and Brandie Burton.

Bradley put an end to memories of Friday's round of 76. She knocked six shots off par on the last 10 holes with four birdies and an eagle on the 458-yard 18th for a 6-under 66.

Alice Ritzman, Colleen Walker, Hollis Stacy and Anne-Marie Palli stayed within hailing distance of the lead at 211, six shots back. Kris Tschetter was all alone at 212.

The 6,243-yard Randolph North Golf Course, whose sun-baked greens and thick, tangled rough made it unforgiving in the first two rounds, loosened its grip yesterday.

Along with Bradley and Daniel, Ritzman (67), Deb Richard (67), Jayne Thobois (68), Juli Inkster (68), Ayako Okamoto (68), Burton (69), Jody Anschutz (69), Caroline Gowan (69), Deborah McHaffie (69), Tara Fleming (69), Michelle McGann (69), and Walker (69) all broke 70.

Daniel consistently outdrove Eggeling and Lisa Walters, the other members of her threesome. She first went 10-under on the fifth hole, a 408-yard par-4, by rolling in a birdie putt from about 35 feet.

Daniel bogeyed No. 7 when she missed the green, rolled her chip about 8 feet beyond the hole and was unable to save par.

Vantage at The Dominion

SAN ANTONIO

SAN ANTONIO -- Defending champion Lee Trevino and Miller Barber each shot 6-under-par 66s to share the 36-hole lead in the Senior PGA tournament.

Trevino and Barber were at 10-under 134 after two rounds over the 6,814-yard, par-72 Dominion Country Club Course.

Barber, 60, captured his third Vantage Classics title of the season yesterday, for golfers 60 and older. Barber, who won $11,000 yesterday, is trying to become the first to win a classics and a senior tournament on the same weekend.

"I probably played as good as I possibly could have," said Barber, who eagled the ninth hole with a 10-foot putt and added five birdies during the second round.

"I drove the ball extremely well. I drove it straight and long, and putted well," Barber said. "No one has won the tournament and the Classics. I'll go out and do the best I can. Let's face it, at my age, I'm not supposed to win. I'll just go out and let the hammer drop and see what happens."

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