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PRO GOLF Love surges to two-stroke lead at Pebble



Published: Wed, February 12, 2003 @ 12:00 a.m.



Gil Morgan has the lead by one in the Champions Tour opener.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- Davis Love III won't need an unbelievable comeback to win this Pebble Beach National Pro-Am -- not if he can excel as the front-runner.

Love shot a 5-under 67 on the tough Spyglass Hill course Saturday, taking a two-stroke lead over Mike Weir, Tom Lehman and Rod Pampling into the final round.

Two years ago, Love erased a seven-stroke Sunday deficit to win at Pebble Beach -- but he hasn't won a tournament since. Injuries kept him off his once-dominant form, and he dealt with mental stress from five top-five finishes without a victory last season.

He vividly remembers his final round at Pebble Beach in 2001, when he went 8-under on the first seven holes and streaked past Phil Mickelson -- but with a lead, better health and a clear head, he hopes he won't need to repeat himself.

Six players held the lead for part of the third round, but Love's steady play at Spyglass -- away from the celebrity-studded field crowding Pebble Beach Golf Links -- allowed him to climb ahead. Weir matched Love's 67 with a brilliant front nine, while Lehman and Pampling both remained steady.

Weir arrived at Pebble Beach in top form off his victory last week in the Bob Hope Classic, and he scorched the front nine at Pebble Beach after beginning the day four strokes off the lead. Playing partner and fellow Canadian Wayne Gretzky even got into the spirit, playing his best round of the pro-am.

Starting with a 15-foot putt for an eagle on No. 2, Weir went 7 under through the first seven holes, chipping in from the fringe for another eagle on the sixth. But Weir missed birdie putts on the eighth and ninth holes, and he went 2-over on the back nine.

Pampling, an Australian without a PGA Tour victory, stayed in striking distance for the second straight day.

Twenty-five pro-am teams made the cut for Sunday's final round, with New England quarterback Tom Brady, aging rocker Glenn Frey, Arizona first baseman Mark Grace and actor Chris O'Donnell among the surviving celebrities.

It was the best day of the tournament for stargazing, with the lion's share of the famous amateurs playing Pebble Beach. Bill Murray, who also made the cut with playing partner Scott Simpson, kissed women and tried on new hats at nearly every hole.

Champions

KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. -- Gil Morgan birdied the final three holes to shoot a 4-under 68 and take a one-stroke lead at the Royal Caribbean Classic.

Morgan is 6-under heading into today's final round of the first full-field event on the Champions Tour, formerly known as the Senior PGA Tour.

Rodger Davis is 5-under after shooting a 2-under 70 at Crandon Park Golf Course. First-round leader Bobby Wadkins is two shots back along with Hubert Green (68), Tom Purtzer (69) and Dave Barr (70).




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