Leonard stays atop Texas Open

Sunday, September 30, 2001

SAN ANTONIO -- Justin Leonard shot a 3-under-par 68 Saturday to stay in front going into the final round of the Texas Open.

Leonard, the defending champion, played even par on the front nine before making three birdies early on the back nine to post a three-day total of 16-under 197.

Matt Kuchar shot a 64 to pull within two shots of Leonard going into today's fourth round at the LaCantera Golf Club course.

Carl Paulson, who matched Leonard's 68, remained three shots off the lead. Tom Scherrer, J.J. Henry and first-round leader Marco Dawson, who had a hole-in-one, were five shots off the pace at 202.

Kuchar, a 23-year-old tour rookie, carded four birdies on the front nine and added birdies on his last two holes to equal the best round of the tournament.

"Like Tiger says, 'You can only give yourself a chance,' and I've done that," he said.

Kuchar's best finish has been a third-place tie in the Air Canada Championship earlier this month.

Leonard is driven by not having won since last year's Texas Open.

"There are a lot of motivating factors, but too many to list," he said. "I have a chance to win, and that's it right there."

Paulson, playing Saturday in the final group with Leonard and Dawson, was even on the day after 10 holes. He then had three birdies on the next four holes to get to 13 under.

Paulson said the 2000 Tampa Bay Classic, where he finished second, gave him a taste of the pressure he'll be under today.

"I got what it feels like to take the last grouping," he said, adding that to win, "you have to make birdies on a tough course."

Dawson, who started the day three shots off the lead, pulled within one shot of Leonard after birdies on the 5th and 7th, but five holes later he was five back. After a par on No. 8, Dawson bogeyed the 9th and 11th holes, while Leonard had birdies on the 10th and 12th.

Then, on the 142-yard, par-3 13th, Dawson's tee shot flew straight into the cup for an ace. But a bogey on the 14th, combined with a birdie by Leonard, left him once again trailing by five.

Sweden's Jesper Parnevik was at 12 under after 14 holes, but a double-bogey 6 on the 15th and a bogey on the 16th returned him to even for the day.

AFLAC Champions

MOBILE, Ala. -- South Korea's Se Ri Pak birdied her last six holes and shot an 8-under-par 64 to take a seven-stroke lead after three rounds of the AFLAC Champions.

Pak, at 15-under 201, has the largest 54-hole lead on the LPGA Tour this year.

Lorie Kane had six birdies and one bogey in a 5-under 67 and was at 208. Dottie Pepper, still recovering from a stomach virus, shot a 69 and shared third place with Grace Park at 7-under 209. Park fired a 71.

The elite 40-player field is made up of tournament winners from 1999-01 and active Hall of Famers.

Gold Rush Seniors

EL DORADO HILLS, Calif. -- Tom Kite tied a tournament record with a 10-under par 62, grabbing a five-shot lead at the Gold Rush Classic.

Kite broke away from the pack in the second round of the Senior PGA tournament at Serrano Country Club near Sacramento. He made the hilly course look easy, recording two eagles and eight birdies to assume control heading into the final round.

Four players, including defending champion Jim Thorpe, were five shots behind Kite, one of three first-round leaders. Kite had a two-day total of 127.

Also five back were Bruce Lietzke, Ed Dougherty and Allen Doyle.

-- From wire reports

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