Price holds five-stroke lead after three rounds at Colonial
Saturday, May 18th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6
FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) _ Nick Price doesn't know how many more realistic chances he will have to win on the PGA Tour. He knows he's got a pretty good one at the Colonial.
The 45-year-old Price, who limits his schedule to spend more time with his family, shot a 4-under-par 66 Saturday to take a five-stroke lead over three players after three rounds.
``I know if I don't make any bogeys Sunday I'll be hard to beat,'' said Price, who is at 10-under 200. ``The way I'm playing, I have a lot more confidence in my ability.''
The 66 followed a 65 on Friday that put Price in a share for the lead at the midway point. If he can stay in front 18 more holes, he will win for the first time since the 1998 FedEx St. Jude Classic.
Price had four birdies in seven holes after almost giving up the lead to his two playing partners early in his round Saturday. He finished with birdies at the 383-yard 17th and 427-yard 18th after consecutive bogeys.
This is the 14th time that Price has led or had a share of the lead going into the final round. He has won eight times.
``I'm happy to play well, finish in the top 10 and compete, but there's nothing like winning,'' said Price, a top-10 finisher in five of his nine events this year. ``That's what has been frustrating. There has always been one bad round that throws me out of contention.''
Price, the only player with three subpar rounds, has got a little breathing room.
Phil Tataurangi, Kenny Perry and Steve Flesch were tied for second at 5-under 205. Tom Watson, David Toms, Bob Tway and Esteban Toledo, who shared the second-round lead with Price, were six strokes back.
``Obviously Nick has control,'' Perry said. ``If he shoots a good round, we're not going to catch him.''
Watson's last win was at the 1998 Colonial, when he was the only third-round leader since 1993 to finish on top. He shot a bogey-free 66 after finishing the rain-delayed second round with consecutive bogeys.
``I was pretty hot at myself, and maybe that's what I needed,'' Watson said. ``After those bogeys, I just wanted to come out and hit as many greens as possible.''
After a bogey on No. 5, when Price's approach to the 470-yard par 4 landed in a greenside bunker, he was in danger of losing the lead on the next hole. His drive went through some sand into heavy rough and his approach landed to the right of the green between two more bunkers.
Toledo and Flesch both made long birdie putts at the 393-yard sixth to get to 6 under. But Price saved par with an 8-footer to stay at the same score, and went into the lead to stay with a birdie at No. 7.
After consecutive 67s to open the tournament, Toledo had a 2-over 72 Saturday.
``I've got to be more patient, play safe and be a little less aggressive,'' Toledo said. ``The greens are so small and the pin placement is tough.''
That's why there may not be any third-round lead safe at the historic 7,080-yard layout known as Hogan's Alley, where Ben Hogan is the only player to win in consecutive years.
Sergio Garcia, who didn't make the cut this year with a 10-over total, was five strokes behind Phil Mickelson starting the final round last year but won with a closing 63. A year earlier, Mickelson shot a 63 of his own, overcoming the seven-stroke deficit he had going to final nine.
That fact wasn't lost on Toms, whose 64 was the lowest round of the tournament with birdie streaks of four in a row and three straight.
``If I can do it again, you never know what can happen,'' Toms said. ``The key was just getting off to a good start.''
Davis Love II, Justin Leonard, Joel Edwards and Peter Lonard are all at 3-under 207.
Price was at 10 under with a four-stroke lead before his consecutive bogeys.
His drive on the 430-yard 15th found heavy rough and his tee shot to the 188-yard 16th landed on a sprinkler head just off the fringe by a bunker. Even though he got relief, he had a long way to the hole and three-putted.
Tataurangi, who meets with a cardiologist next week to schedule surgery to repair a narrowed heart valve, had a 66. He missed all of 2000 and was still hampered last season by a lingering neck injury, but the heart condition is something he believes he was born with.
``In the last few years, it has been bothersome,'' the 30-year-old New Zealander said. ``It has the same symptoms as a heart attack without the blood pressure. But it's nothing consistent and not something that is fatal.''
Last week at the Byron Nelson Classic in Irving, he felt the symptoms when he jumped up to see a shot. But he played on, finishing 35th, and isn't taking prescriptions because of uncertainty with the side effects that could affect his game.