Couples goes 9-under for 6-shot lead Approaches 5th win in nine months

March 22, 1992

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Fred Couples missed his target, and not by a little bit. Big time. Yet he still was in the lead. Big time.

Going into yesterday's third round of the Nestle Invitational, Couples said "71 would be a good number to shoot at."

He beat that goal by eight shots with a 9-under-par 63 and put the tournament in his pocket on the strength of a six-shot lead over the strongest field yet assembled this year.

There's still one round to go in the chase for a $180,000 first prize, but Gene Sauers, the only man within 10 shots of the runaway leader, all but conceded.

"I'll just be playing for second," Sauers said, looking ahead to the formality of the final round today.

"The way Freddie is playing, I'd have to shoot 57 or something to catch him," Sauers said after completing a 65, losing ground despite bettering par by seven shots.

The way Couples is playing, even a 57 might not be good enough. Not since 1981, when Tom Kite put together a string of top-10 finishes, has anyone played so well so long.

In the last nine months, Couples has won four times and been sixth or better in 18 of his last 22 starts around the world.

And it just keeps getting better.

In the last three weeks, for example, Couples won at Los Angeles, was second in the Doral Open and last week lost a playoff in the Honda Classic.

For the year, he's averaging $74,916 a start, and only 68.2 strokes a round.


LPGA Standard Register Ping

PHOENIX -- Defending champion Danielle Ammaccapane shot 4-under par 69 to rally past second-round leader Marta Figueras-Dotti and take the third-round lead.

The field waited through two rain delays totaling 2 1/2 hours at Moon Valley Country Club.

Figueras-Dotti, 34, shot a 1-under 72 for a three-round total of 8-under-par 211, one stroke behind Ammaccapane in the $550,000 event. She took a one-stroke lead over Ammaccapane after a birdie at the 14th hole, but collected two bogeys in the final four holes to lose it.

Ammaccapane, 26, shot a 3-under-par 33 on the front nine, in which she and Figueras-Dotti, playing together in the last group, finished after the second rain delay. Ammaccapane's only career victory was at this tournament last year.

Vintage ARCO Seniors

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. -- Tommy Aaron shot a second consecutive 7-under-par 65 to take a three-shot lead entering the final round.

Aaron, the 1973 Masters champion with two regular PGA Tour victories, is looking for his first ever on the Senior Tour.

L Mike Hill's second-round 66 gave him a two-day total of 133.

Aaron birdied five of the final six holes at the 6,907-yard Mountain Course.

Aaron's 25-foot downhill putt at the par-3, 144-yard 17th hole and 15-foot birdie putt on the par-5, 503-yard 18th were from tough positions.

"At 17 and 18 the putts were fast, and I just wanted to get it started on line," said Aaron, 55. "And I made a poor choice on the last hole.

"I should have laid back with an iron. Instead, I hit in the right rough."

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