A couple of veterans on a comeback will be chasing a lanky lad who never went away in Sunday's final round of the Players Championship in Ponte Vedra, Fla.
Paul Azinger, one of the PGA Tour's leading performers over the past five seasons, retained the lead with a third-round 69 in near-ideal playing conditions Saturday.The skinny Azinger, whose victory in the Pebble Beach Classic earlier this season marked the fifth consecutive year he has won at least one tournament, completed 54 holes in 204.
But he couldn't shake the persistent Fuzzy Zoeller, a non-winner for five seasons. And Tom Watson once again put himself into the title hunt in what he called "a stepping stone season."
Zoeller, as is his custom, was casually whistling a happy tune - and, on one occasion, flashing an embarrassed smile - as he leisurely fashioned a 69 and remained one stroke back at 205.
He had good reason to be happy. For example, take the second shot on the par-4 14th hole.
The easygoing former Masters and U.S. Open champion got his drive into a terrible position, against the face of a sharp slope.
He had to get the ball up very quickly to clear the top of the mini-cliff and was unable to take a proper stance. "I thought about sitting down to hit it," he said.
Instead, he found another awkward way to go after it, with his left foot propped up on the slope about three feet higher than his right.
"I hit a 5-iron straight up," he said. "It's not a shot you find on page 35 of Golf Digest. I hit it straight up, just trying to get it around the green."
It arched in to within 18 inches of the cup.
Fuzzy grinned sheepishly at the wild applause, then tapped in the putt for the last of his birdies.
Watson, a five-time British Open champion who scored the last of his 32 American victories in 1987, went past 20 players into a tie for third with a 65 - 16 strokes better than he played the third round in this event a year ago.
This time, however, Watson decorated his card with 10 3s, including five birdies and an eagle, and over one stretch one-putted nine holes in a row.
"I haven't had a putting round like that for a long time," said Watson, who has been afflicted with severe putting problems for more than a year.
He showed a flash of the old Watson this day, however. He dropped two from the 25-foot range for birdies, closed out his effort with a 35-footer on the final hole and made par-saving putts of 12, 10 and 6 feet.
"It felt good," he said.At Rancho Mirage, Calif., Amy Alcott fired a 4-under-par 68 Saturday to drop to 11-under and take a commanding lead in the $600,000 Dinah Shore Classic.
Patti Sheehan, Martha Nause, Tammie Green and Dottie Mochrie were tied for second, seven shots behind Alcott.
Alcott is looking to win an unprecedented third Dinah Shore and a fifth major championship.
"I feel like I'm really on my game," she said. "I'm playing aggressive, which is my style and I'm not making any mistakes."
Alcott needs just two more victories to enter the LPGA Hall of Fame. She did not win a tournament in 1990 and her best finish in a major last year was ninth, in the Women's U.S. Open.
Alcott had four birdies through the first eleven holes before making her only bogey at the par-4, 357-yard 12th hole.