Quick-starting Beem set uncatchable pace

Early-birdie momentum proved difference against Hughes, Glasson and Co.

Kemper notebook

May 31, 1999|By John W. Stewart | John W. Stewart,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

POTOMAC -- When leader Rich Beem birdied two of the first three holes yesterday, the 32nd Kemper Open turned into a fox-and-hounds chase. At the finish, the pursuers simply had not been able to apply any real pressure.

Beem confirmed this, though a little nervously, when he said, "I'm just thankful I had a two-stroke lead coming into the last hole."

Chief among the challengers were Bradley Hughes and two-time Kemper champion Bill Glasson, who finished one shot back after Beem bogeyed his last hole. Hughes ended 67275 and Glasson 69275.

Tommy Armour III, with Beem in the final twosome, was reasonably steady, but, at minus-9 through 15 holes, he double-bogeyed the 16th to end his threat.

Hal Sutton, nearly 90 minutes in front of the leader, mounted a charge when he ran in six birdies in 16 holes. At that point, he was one of four (with Hughes, Glasson, and Armour), tied for second at 8-under, four shots back. He stayed there (276) with the day's low round, a 65.

"The key for me was no bogeys on the weekend," Sutton said. "Today, I hit 16 greens."

Even though he made the six birdies and a par-saving putt at 18 after chipping from near the scoring tent to four feet, he added: "These greens are as hard as any [to putt]. There are a lot of double breaks. I've watched great putters miss putt after putt here."

David Toms, whose round included an eagle at the 301-yard 14th, birdied the 18th for 67276. Armour was joined at 277 by defending champ Stuart Appleby.

"If I had got off to a fast start, I might have been able to do something," Glasson said. "This is so much a momentum course. I wanted to put pressure on early.

"The opposite happened -- I was slow; he was fast. I got six behind and it was over early. Then you're just trying to improve your position."

Glasson speaks from experience, as he came from six back and two back with strong Sunday rounds to win at Congressional Country Club (1985) and here (1992).

Hughes birdied three of the first five holes yesterday to get to minus-8, was still there through No. 14, then chipped in from 50 feet at 15 for his final bird.

"I had to get to 10-under, and then you never know. I had a good week -- pretty solid. I messed up the front nine Saturday [39], but otherwise, I pretty much hit the shots I had to hit." His last three nines were 33-33-34.

Area contingent

Mark Carnevale had an up-and-down round, but the onetime Annapolis resident finished "up," rolling in a 12-foot birdie putt at the 18th green for a closing 69283.

The round included four birdies, four bogeys and one of the day's five eagles.

Fred Funk (72284), who missed two fairways the first three days, missed four on the back nine yesterday, but still collected eight pars, missing only at No. 12, one of the fairways he missed.

After driving into heavy rough left of 18, he managed to get a shot up short of the green, from where he hit a wedge shot to six feet. "I played well," he said, "but didn't score. The driving wasn't that bad. I just pulled a couple."

His only birdie, at No. 6, could have been anything up to double figures. At the 520-yard dogleg right, his second shot hit a tree and caromed into the woods. Almost unable to see the ball in the undergrowth, he got off a shot that somehow landed on the green and rolled to 15 feet.

Considering he might have hit it in the creek or, worse, unplayable, it turned out to be an outstanding shot. Then, he capped the performance by holing the putt.

Donnie Hammond and Monday qualifier Rod Butcher both started 2-under par, but fell back quickly. Hammond had another yo-yo round, after Saturday's 39-29 with 42-34 for 287. Butcher also posted a front-nine 42, and got home in 79290.

Fast play

Gabriel Hjertstedt, the last day's odd man among the 75 players, completed his leadoff round in 2 hours, 20 minutes. Playing with a marker, he shot 1-over-par 72 to finish at 290, six over for 72 holes.

More money

The purse for the 2000 Kemper Open has been increased to $3 million, and, beginning with Beem, there will be added incentives for players to enter the tournament, often maligned for its lack of what might be considered marquee names.

Beem now has the opportunity to sign a one-year contract to display the Kemper logo on his clothes, or bag, and, as a bonus, if he wins a major championship, Kemper will award him $200,000.

The announcement was made jointly by Ben Brundred Jr., tournament chairman for the last 13 years, and David Mathis, Kemper chairman and CEO.

Beginner's luck

Players who won their first PGA Tour tournament at the Kemper Open since 1980:

Year ----- Player

1999 ----- Rich Beem-x

1997 ----- Steve Stricker

1993 ----- Grant Waite-x

1991 ----- Billy Andrade

1989 ----- Tom Byrum-x

1985 ----- Bill Glasson

1984 ----- Greg Norman

1983 ----- Fred Couples

x -- Only victory to date

Pub Date: 5/31/99

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