Pavin leads Buick Championship by three strokes

Thursday, August 26th 2004, 8:17 pm
By: News On 6

CROMWELL, Conn. (AP) _ Matt Weibring would like to pick up at the Buick Championship where his father left off.

He was 16 years old and watched from the gallery when D.A. Weibring held off Tom Kite for a one-stroke win at the event, formerly called the Greater Hartford Open.

``It's the only time I've been with my dad when he won,'' the younger Weibring said.

Now 24, Weibring is tied for second after shooting a 5-under-par 65 Thursday in the inaugural Buick Championship. He's three strokes behind leader Corey Pavin, whose 8-under-par 62 matched his career best.

Weibring walked all four of his father's rounds eight years ago and vividly remembers his dad's shotmaking.

``I've got real good memories of my dad hitting those shots, so kind of in my head, I had an idea what to do and what kind of shots to play,'' Weibring said. ``If I can stay and not get caught up in what is actually happening, I think I'll be able to be all right.''

Corey Pavin's 62 was also his season low and the best round in his 12 appearances at the tournament.

Pavin, 44, has contended in this event several times, especially in the mid-1990s when he finished with a second and third.

``Any time you get to a golf course you feel comfortable on, you just feel good that you might shoot a good score or things are going to come together,'' Pavin said. ``And today was a day that everything seemed to come together.''

Bob Burns and Weibring are second at 5-under 65. Bunched together four strokes behind the leader with 66s were Fred Funk, David Peoples, Jerry Kelly, Jason Dufner and Craig Bowden.

Pavin's round was one stroke off the tournament record of 61 held by three players _ two-time champ Phil Mickelson, Scott Verplank and Kirk Triplett. It also matched the event's best first-round score, set in 2001 by Jonathan Kaye. Pavin's only other 62 came in the 1990 Texas Open, where he finished third.

He took advantage of ideal scoring conditions in his morning round after heavy fog lifted and softened the greens at TPC at River Highlands. Pavin holed a 120-yard wedge shot on the 341-yard second hole for an eagle. His seven-birdie round included a 45-foot chip-in at No. 18 that brought a roar from the gallery.

His only stumble was a bogey at No. 12 when he missed a 10-footer for par.

Burns has made just nine cuts in 21 events this season and has one top-10 finish. His only win on tour came at the Disney Classic in 2002. He acknowledges being a little distracted this season due to the birth of his first son.

``I've had a lot going on,'' Burns said. ``He's 14 months old now and that's a blast, so I've been pretty distracted with that. But I can't use that as an excuse.''

Pavin, the 1995 U.S. Open champ, has just one top-10 finish this season and is looking for his first win since 1996. He's been working with swing coach Butch Harmon the past year and likes the direction his game is heading.

``Certainly it's important where I end up on Sunday, but right now the journey is really important for me and what I go through and how I get to that point where I'm playing to the best of my ability,'' Pavin said. ``If I happen to win, great ... But as long as I'm going in the right direction, that's all I'm after right now.''