Janzen clings to lead in Open by 1 stroke Stewart, Price turn up the heat

June 20, 1993|By Bill Glauber | Bill Glauber,Staff Writer

SPRINGFIELD, N.J. -- Their names are Lee Janzen, Payne Stewart and Nick Price, and for one weekend, they are as big a bunch of stars as you can get in golf.

They have survived 54 holes of unbending pressure at the 93rd U.S. Open, playing through heat, humidity and history, testing their nerves and resolve against a par-70 Baltusrol Golf Club Lower Course that is long and cranky and ever-dangerous.

And that was the easy part.

All they did during yesterday's third round was survive, playing exquisite pressure golf while even beating a deadline as a thunderstorm drenched Baltusrol at twilight.

There was Janzen, 28 going on stardom, banging out two birdies on the first two holes, slipping a bit, but shooting 1-under 69 to hold his lead at 7-under 203.

And there was Stewart, wearing his trademark knickers in the colors of the Minnesota Vikings, content with 16 pars and two birdies en route to a 68 and a 6-under 204.

And finally, there was Price, born in South Africa, raised in Zimbabwe, living in America, scrambling for even-par 70 and 3-under 207, giving himself a chance to make a run at the title in today's final round.

"The condition of the golf course is one thing," Price said. "The pressure of a major championship is another. It's like another hazard out there. The fairways get narrower. The greens get smaller. And the holes shrink."

The three golfers gave the huge galleries some wonderful moments yesterday, showing the way in a round that usually separates those who can win the Open from those who can't.

You want Open pressure? Here it is:

It's Fred Couples walking to the first tee with a chance to make some noise, and sending his first shot 250 yards.

Into the street.

Out of bounds.

And likely out of contention at par 210.

It's Corey Pavin transforming himself from contender to pretender with a 5-over 75 and tumbling to 2-over 212.

And it's Tom Watson, showing again why he has only won once in nine years, missing important short putts, cranking out a 73, and falling to 1-under 209.

But the pressure can toughen a golfer. David Edwards came up with the best round of the day, 4-under 66, and played his way into contention at 2-under 208.

And Paul Azinger, staggered by the heat that shot into the 90s, managed a 1-under 69 to also finish at 208.

"You can't have success at the U.S. Open and make mistakes," Stewart said.

He should know.

In 1991, Stewart won the Open at Hazeltine in Minnesota. Since then, he has been winless, but he is aiming for a reversal of fortune at Baltusrol.

And suddenly, he is playing like Nick Faldo, stringing together pars.

"I can't pat myself on the back enough for the patience and maturity I showed myself," Stewart said. "Since defense is not allowed in this game, I'm going to pay attention to Payne $H Stewart."

But even with that winning Open experience, Stewart may find it awfully difficult to get past Janzen.

He may not yet be the most popular player in America, but Janzen has certainly been noticed by his fellow pros, who drool over his perfect swing and deft touch on the greens.

"Lee is very solid," Stewart said. "He's a wonderful player with wonderful tempo. He's going to be a force for a long, long time."

Janzen's reign as America's top golfer could begin here and now.

Never before had he faced an Open Saturday or Sunday, missing the cut in three previous appearances.

But he stood up to the pressure yesterday, with four birdies and three bogeys, even going as low as 8-under through 38 holes.

That's not the kind of up and down round you want at the Open, but it will do.

"I feel much more confident keeping the lead," said Janzen, whose 54 hole total of 203 tied the Open record for lowest score set by George Burns at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa., in 1981 and T. C. Chen at Oakland Hills in Birmingham, Mich., in 1985 (neither went on to win).

But today will be different.

"Lee Janzen is entering new territory," Price said.

"Having never been in a lead at a major championship, that is something that is different. He is very capable of winning a major. He is an extremely talented golfer. I don't see him fading."

Price can tell you about contending for major championships. A two-time British Open runner-up, he has the game and the guts to win majors.

But he is still in search of that first victory.

"You just can't believe the pressure out there," he said. "It can get pretty discouraging."

Now comes the hard part.

U.S. OPEN

The leader . . .

Lee Janzen.. .. .. .. .. ..67-67-69203

and followers

Payne Stewart.. .. .. .. ..70-66-68204

Nick Price.. .. .. .... ...71-66-70207

Paul Azinger.. .. .. .. ...71-68-69208

David Edwards.. .. .. .. ..70-72-66208

Fred Funk.. .. .. .. .. ...70-72-67209

Tom Watson.. .. .. .. .. ..70-66-73209

Fred Couples.. .. .. .. ...68-71-71210

Complete scores: 14D

LEADERS' CARDS

The cards of the leaders yesterday after the third round of the U.S. Open Golf Championship on the 7,152-yard Baltusrol Golf

Club course:

Par out.. .. .. ..444.. ...344.. .. .. ..443-34

Janzen out.. .. ..335.. ...354.. .. .. ..433-33

Stewart out.. ....444.. ...344.. .. .. ..443-34

Price out.. .. ...444.. ...444.. .. .. ..444-36

Edwards out.. .. .434.. .. 334.. .. .. ..433-31

Azinger out.. .. .443.. ...344.. .. .. ..444-34

Par in.. .. .. ...443.. ...444.. .. . 355-3670210

Janzen in .. .. ..443 .. ..445 .. .. 354-36-69203

Stewart in .. .. .443 .. ..344 .. ...354-34-68204

Price in .. .. ...443 .. ..344 .. .. 354-34-70207

Edwards in .. .. .344 .. ..444 .. .. 345-35-66208

Azinger in .. ....443 .. ..445 .. ...344-35-69208

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