Gilder ties record but can't relax

131 matches 36-hole mark, but yielding course means title remains up for grabs

Constellation Energy Classic

Final round today

Haysfields Country Club

TV today : Golf Channel, 1:30 - 4 p.m.


September 18, 2005|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

How low can you go?

The Constellation Energy Classic looked more like a limbo contest than a golf tournament yesterday afternoon as a mild breeze and some sweet shot-making delivered a leader board that should make for a memorable final round at Hayfields Country Club.

The pacesetter hasn't won in more than two years and his followers include the likes of Tom Watson and Curtis Strange.

Bob Gilder had a 67 that left him at 13-under-par 131. He posted the best two-day score ever at Hayfields, equaled the CEC's 36-hole record and positioned himself to become its second straight wire-to-wire winner. Two strokes back at 11-under are Morris Hatalsky, who matched the course record of 64, and D.A. Weibring (66).

They'll go off last today, but the gallery at the Champions Tour stop will be lured more by the previous threesome. Strange (66) and Watson (68) are three strokes back at 10-under, and Bruce Fleisher is 9-under after a 66.

Rick Rhoden, the former All-Star baseball pitcher, had his second straight 68 and is among four players at 8-under.

"I don't care about your age or talent level," said Strange, who had two of yesterday's five eagles, "you are going to be able to stick some shots on these greens."

On a day when the average score dropped from Friday's 71.167 to 70.948, Hatalsky became the second man in as many days and the fourth in the last five rounds of the CEC to match the tournament record.

He closed with four straight birdies, and the last drew him even with Gilder at 11-under. Weibring vaulted past both with an eagle on No. 15 that pushed him to 12-under, but bogeyed 18. Gilder birdied Nos. 16 and 18, doing exactly what he needs to do today.

"The conditions are very favorable, and the golf course is there for the taking," Hatalsky said. "There are a ton of guys still in this tournament. Whoever is in the lead is not going to protect the lead; he's going to be attacking the golf course."

Hatalsky spoke while Gilder was still on the course. After firing a 64 of his own on Friday, Gilder hit only five fairways yesterday, but birdied the last three par-5s after going 0-fer in the first round.

Gilder momentarily lost the touch on his newfound putting stroke with a three-putt on No. 6, but responded by making birdie look easy on No. 7. He was four strokes up on Watson when they sat through nearly a 10-minute wait on No. 8, a par-3, but Gilder immediately felt some heat.

Watson twisted his body before he teed off, saying, "That's what you get for sitting down," but proceeded to birdie No. 8 out of a bunker, No. 9 with a stiff approach and No. 11 with a long putt. His momentum stopped there, as he parred out en route to being the only player with a bogey-free 36 holes.

Weibring birdied three of the first four holes. He and Watson are 3-4 in the Charles Schwab Cup standings, and will move up a notch today as No. 2 Hale Irwin scratched from the event with a sore lower back. Dana Quigley, who has a substantial lead in that season-long points race, is out of contention here after a 70 left him at 3-under.

Watson has his eight majors to keep him warm, while Strange is looking to recapture the form that made him U.S. Open champion in 1988 and 1989.

In his third season on the Champions Tour, Weibring will be looking to become its fifth multiple winner this season. Fleisher, who dominated as a rookie in 1999, is winless for the first time since joining the Champions Tour, while Strange's first go-round there has produced just one top-10 finish.

While Gilder has finished in the top 10 just twice this season, the 36-hole leader at the CEC has won five times in seven years.

Last year, Wayne Levi became the first to finish 16-under at Hayfields, the CEC's home since 2001. To hold on, Gilder may have to go lower than that - very low, indeed.

"On a course like this," Gilder said, "with everyone coming after you, the best defense is a good offense. You have to be aggressive."

Tee times

Today's third round

(No. 1 tee) 9:30: Bruce Summerhays, Tom McKnight, Tom Jenkins

9:40: Jerry Pate, Mark McCumber, Bobby Wadkins 9:50: Ed Dougherty, Dave Barr, Bob Charles

10:00: Doug Tewell, Dana Quigley, Mike Sullivan 10:10: Jim Colbert, Andy Bean, Wayne Levi

10:20: Joe Inman, Bob Murphy, Tom Kite

10:30: Keith Fergus, Don Pooley, Mike McCullough 10:40: John Jacobs, James Mason, Gary Koch

10:50: Brad Bryant, Gary McCord, Larry Nelson

11:00: Dan Pohl, John Ross, John Bland

11:10: Pete Oakley, Hajime Meshiai, Rick Rhoden 11:20: Curtis Strange, Tom Watson, Bruce Fleisher 11:30: Bob Gilder, Morris Hatalsky, D.A. Weibring

(No. 10) 9:35: Mark James, Jay Sigel, Jim Albus

9:45: Howard Twitty, Graham Marsh, Rocky Thompson

9:55: David Eger, Mike San Filippo, R.W. Eaks

10:05: Gibby Gilbert, Norm Jarvis, Mark Johnson 10:15: Doug Johnson, Dale Douglass, Mike Hill

10:25: Jim Thorpe, Allen Doyle, Lonnie Nielsen

10:35: John Harris, Des Smyth, Walter Hall

10:45: J.C. Snead, Raymond Floyd, Charles Coody 10:55: Jim Ahern, Leonard Thompson, Dave Stockton 11:05: Mike Donald, Joe Clark, Jim Dent

11:15: Mike Reid, Lanny Wadkins, Don Reese

11:25: Terry Dill, Deane Beman, Larry Ziegler

11:35: Dick Mast, Lee Trevino

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