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TUCSON Solid third round helps Lickliter lead



Published: Tue, March 4, 2003 @ 12:00 a.m.



He's looking for his second PGA Tour victory.

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) -- An unspectacular third round was just fine to Frank Lickliter II at the Chrysler Classic of Tucson, and good enough for a four-stroke lead.

The 33-year-old golfer who drastically altered his swing 18 months ago shot a 2-under-par 70 on Saturday and was at 16-under 200 after 54 holes.

"I just played real solid," he said. "I stayed real focused. I'd just like to make a few more putts tomorrow."

In search of his second PGA Tour victory, but first since the major makeover of his game, Lickliter knew better than to expect a repeat of the 9-under 63 that propelled him into the lead Friday.

Staying under control

"I'm very happy to break par today," he said. "It's so easy to let your expectations go out of control, and then when you don't feel like you're maintaining those expectations, it's real easy to get a bad attitude."

Under an overcast but dry sky, with no wind, on the 7,109-yard course at the Omni Tucson National Golf Resort, Chad Campbell and Steve Flesch had strong third rounds to move from far back into a second-place tie with Brenden Pappas at 12-under 204.

Lickliter, 33, could have had a far more comfortable lead, but he missed a five-foot birdie putt on the par-3, 186-yard 17th hole, then lipped out one from 10 on the tough, par-4, 465-yard 18th for his only bogey of the day. He also missed a handful of relatively short birdie putts on the front nine.

He got a break on No. 18 when his tee shot hooked to the left. It might have rolled into the water had the gallery not stopped it.

"That's the happiest I've ever been to see a crowd, believe me," he said.

Campbell, in the first group to tee off in chilly conditions Saturday morning, shot a 9-under 63, capped by a 7-under 29 on the back nine.

Flesch, who has won $5.7 million in five years on the PGA Tour but has no victories, shot an 8-under 64, but it could have been better.

The left-handed golfer seemed headed for a record-shattering round when he birdied 10 of the first 13 holes to go 10-under for the day.

Hard to explain

"It's hard to explain how it happens," Flesch said, "but just everything I hit went in the hole."

But after knocking down birdie putts of 60 and 40 feet from the fringe on the 11th and 12th holes, he three-putted from 12 feet for a double-bogey 7 on the par-5, 663-yard 15th.

"A total loss of concentration," he said. "That's exactly how the game is. I mean, you'd like to stand out there and scream at the top of your lungs."

Lickliter won the Kemper Insurance Open in 2001 and finished 19th on the money list that year, but decided after failing to make a cut over the last two months of the tour that he had to change everything about his swing if he wanted to be one of the best.

A one-dimensional, left-to-right hitter, Lickliter went to work with coach Randy Seniour to change that so he could make any kind of shot that was required.




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