Kite's third round hurt his chances to win championship

2-over 73 on Saturday too much to overcome while chasing Pooley


July 01, 2002|By Travis Haney | Travis Haney,SUN STAFF

You're not likely to find mild-mannered Tom Kite's name on the police blotter anytime soon, but the 52-year-old said he should have been incarcerated for his poor play in Saturday's third round of the U.S. Senior Open at Caves Valley Golf Club.

Kite did make five birdies, but he had five bogeys and a double bogey to finish with a 2-over-par 73, dropping him to 4-under for the tournament, five shots behind eventual winner Don Pooley going into the final round.

Bogeys on 14 and 15 and the double on 17 particularly did in the 1992 U.S. Open champion's chances to win his second major on the senior tour. He had won The Tradition in 2000.

On the driving range after Saturday's round, he asked a Baltimore County police officer if he was going to be "arrested for impersonating a golfer."

"I was so bad yesterday ... I wasn't sharp the other three days, but Saturday was terrible," he said. "Fortunately, I was a little better today."

At times yesterday it looked as though Kite might make a move to join Pooley and Tom Watson, but that bid ended abruptly midway through the back nine.

Kite had just birdied the par-5 13th to move within three shots of Pooley, at 7-under. He then had a slick downhill 6-footer for birdie on the 14th that could have gotten him two shots from the lead and tied him with Watson at the time.

The putt moved an inch farther to the right than he thought and stayed up on the putting surface. Kite looked both dumbfounded and exasperated as he walked up to tap the par putt in.

"I really ... I hit that putt as good as I've ever hit a putt in my life," he said. "I thought it was going to go a little left off of the ridge, and back right, and it looked like it was hanging in there pretty good and just dove right at the last."

Kite missed a par attempt on 15 to drop to 6-under. He did come back to birdie No. 17 to finish the tournament in third place with a 7-under 277, but his shot at winning had vanished.

"Those two putts right there," he said, "could have put me in the playoff, for sure."

Costly holes

If not for holes 9 and 15, you might have seen Larry Nelson's name atop the leader board.

Nelson played the 406-yard, par-4 ninth 3-over for the week and the 215-yard, par-3 15th 4-over during the tournament.

"If you take those two holes out, I'd have been 10-under," said Nelson, who fared better on the toughest hole on the course statistically, No. 17. "I played 17 3-under. Go figure."

Nelson, on the heels of a final-round 67, finished 3-under, in a tie for seventh place.

View from home front

Jim Holtgrieve said he has enjoyed the "home course" advantage he had this week at Caves Valley. Holtgrieve, who lives in St. Louis, has been a member of the course since 1993. He finished the tournament tied for 47th (75-69-76-75-295).

"It's been neat, and I think the players have a lot of respect for the golf course," said Holtgrieve, who plans to come back to Caves in August to entertain friends.

"I think it's building its reputation and that somewhere down the road the USGA might consider this place for a U.S. Open. It would be interesting to see how Tiger would play it."

Moving up in rankings

Through 20 Senior Tour events, Hale Irwin is the leader of the Charles Schwab Player of the Year Cup.

Irwin has 1,352 points, 383 more than Dana Quigley, who is in second place. With the win in yesterday's Open, Pooley moved from 41st to 15th in the Schwab standings with 569 points. Watson's runner-up effort moved him from 12th place to eighth with 750 points.

At the end of the year, the player with the most points will earn a $1 million annuity from Charles Schwab.

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