Kite in position for another shot at major title U.S. Open notes

June 21, 1992|By Don Markus | Don Markus,Staff Writer

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- Tom Kite has won more money than any other player in PGA Tour history. But whenever he gets into contention at major championships, it's inevitable for someone to mention that he has never won a big one.

It will be brought up today, when Kite starts the final round of the 92nd U.S. Open at 3-under-par, tied for second place and one shot behind Gil Morgan. It was Morgan who gave Kite and others a chance yesterday.

Asked whether he could relate to Morgan's collapse during the final 11 holes of the third round, Kite said: "I'm not going to try. I have to go out and play to win. I'm going to dwell on the positive, not the negative."

Therefore, Kite might think of the competitive course-record 62 he holds at Pebble Beach -- set when he won the 1983 AT&T Challenge, under much easier conditions -- rather than the three-shot lead he lost during the last 14 holes in the 1989 Open at Oak Hill.

Kite, 42, wouldn't mind winning the Open, of course. It would help cap a career in which he has made more than $7 million in prize money, won 17 tournaments and been asked more than a few times why he hasn't won a major.

"I'd quit having all those questions," said Kite, who tuned up for this year's Open by practicing at Caves Valley Golf Club in Owings Mills while attending the Olympic gymnastics trials with his children. "I'm pleased with Tom Kite. I'm pleased with the career I've had. I'm happy with who I am. I'm not going to kill myself if I don't win a major."

But . . .

"Yes, I want to win this golf tournament. I want to win a major," he said. "Whether I do or I don't, I'll still come back. If I get close, I'll be disappointed. But if I don't win, I plan on trying again."

* Andy Dillard might have lost his chance at fame and fortune in the Open when he shot a 7-over-par 79 yesterday -- he is five shots behind Morgan -- but the 30-year-old Texan has certainly won his share of fans here at Pebble Beach.

He kept his poise and his sense of humor despite the disastrous round, which he played with Morgan. "I know you guys have misspelled a word once in a while," Dillard told writers in the press room. "I misspelled an entire column."

Dillard is a former PGA Tour and Hogan Tour player who has spent most of the last three years hustling golf bets at a club outside Oklahoma City -- Oak Tree, the same club to which

Morgan belongs. So what happened in the third round wasn't as devastating as it might seem.

"I wished it wouldn't have happened, but if that's the worst thing that will ever happen to me, I'm not in bad shape," Dillard said. "I have to keep it in perspective. I'd like to play well tomorrow, finish in the top 15 and get invited to the Masters."

* After Anders Forsbrand of Sweden hit his drive on No.2 off a garbage can near a beverage stand, the marshall moved back the gallery to give him a shot at the green.

Would they move, the marshall wanted to know?

"It depends on how scared they are," said Forsbrand, who proceeded to smack a rocket of a 2-iron onto the green.

* Fred Funk of Laurel, who started the day at 3-over, finished at 7-over 223. Funk played the last six holes in 5-over. Donnie Hammond, formerly of Frederick, shot a third straight 73 and is seven shots back.

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