Coceres shoots for second win

Sunday, October 21, 2001

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Jose Coceres must feel like he's in Fantasyland, and not just because the National Car Rental Classic is across the street from the Magic Kingdom.

He grew up in a two-room house in Argentina, sharing three beds with 10 brothers and sisters. He learned to play golf with branches and rocks, and worked as a caddie until he could find support for his professional career.

With an 8-under-par 64 on Saturday, matching the best score of the day, Coceres built a three-stroke lead over Davis Love III and was in prime position to win for the second time this year on the PGA Tour.

He also won in Hilton Head after a playoff that lasted until Monday.

"I'm very happy for playing very good today," said Coceres, who mixes Spanish with the few English words he knows. "Now, I start in the front. But tomorrow is a new day. My confidence is very good.".

Despite the language barrier, Love said he and Coceres occasionally talked. The conversation on a blustery afternoon went something like this:

"Good shot, Jose."

"Good putt, Jose."

While 61 players in the field shot par or better, none was as efficient as Coceres. He missed only three greens and took 25 putts, a combination that works anywhere.

"He has a real good attitude," Love said. "And obviously, he's comfortable with the putter."

That anyone had a lead as large as three strokes was surprising, especially since six players claimed a share of the lead at one point on the Magnolia Course. But the Argentine took control with a 15-foot birdie putt on the par-5 10th hole, and never gave it back.

He finished with a birdie on the 18th, pointing to the cup with glee as it fell to put him at 19-under 197. Coceres will try to become the first foreign player to win at Disney World.

Love had a poor round striking the ball and still managed a 67. Another stroke back was Vijay Singh, who birdied the first four holes on the back nine to get back into the picture.

Eleven players are within five strokes of the lead, including Tiger Woods.

The scoring was so low, and the names were so bunched, that Woods got to within three shots of the lead at one point and couldn't be found on the first two pages of the electronic leaderboard.

He finished with a birdie for a 67 that put him at 203.

"I've never seen a leaderboard like this where there is this many guys bunched together with a chance to win," Woods said.

Stuart Appleby and Scott McCarron each had 65 to join Singh at 201, while the group at 202 included two-time U.S. Open champion Lee Janzen (65) and Kaname Yokoo of Japan, whose second-round lead was gone by the time he got to the first tee. He had a 71.

SBC Championship

SAN ANTONIO -- Bob Murphy shot a 6-under par 66 on Saturday to grab a share of the lead in the Senior PGA's SBC Championship.

Murphy and opening-round leader Gary McCord were at 10-under 134 going into the final day of the 54-hole event at The Dominion Country Club.

"I feel very, very confident in putting, so I'll be relying on that tomorrow," said Murphy, whose best finish in 24 starts this year was a tie for 13th at the Senior PGA Championship in May.

Defending champion Doug Tewell, Bob Gilder and Bruce Fleisher were all one stroke back, followed by Jim Barker and Larry Nelson at 136.

-- From wire reports

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: