Watson Takes 3-Stroke Lead in Las Vegas Invitational

Associated Press

Tom Watson, chasing his first victory of the season, Friday took advantage of what he called "a perfect scoring day" to shoot a 68 that provided him with a three-stroke lead after 54 holes of the Panasonic Las Vegas Invitational golf tournament.

Watson, who has completed one round on each of three desert courses, has a 14-under-par total of 199.

With two rounds to go in the five-day, 90-hole event, Mike Smith and Billy Glasson share second at 202. Glasson shot a par 72 at the Desert Inn Friday, while Smith had a four-under-par 66 at Tropicana.

Frank Conner was next at 203. He had a third-round 69 at Tropicana.

"I've got to continue to play aggressive golf," Watson said after finishing his round at the Las Vegas Country Club with a birdie 4 on the 18th hole.

"I've got to stick with my game plan for the next two days. If I hit enough good shots, I should have a good chance to win the tournament."

Brett Upper was alone at 204 after a third-round 66, four-under at Tropicana. Jay Haas, with a 67 at Las Vegas Country Club, was at 205.

Curtis Strange and Johnny Miller were next at 206. Strange had a third-round 64, Miller a 66, both at Tropicana.

U.S. Open title-holder Fuzzy Zoeller had a 67 at Las Vegas and was at 209. Defending champion Denis Watson of South Africa had a 66, also at Las Vegas, and had a 210 total. Mark O'Meara shot 71 at Desert Inn and was at 214.

After playing one round on each of three courses, the pros now play the final two rounds at Las Vegas Country Club.

Tom Watson, one shot back of Glasson after two rounds, got away to a running start with a 35-foot birdie putt on the first hole.

"A good way to start," he said. "That takes care of any nerves you may have."

Watson, chasing a $171,000 first prize, said he was "happy about the way I played. Obviously, I'm in good position.

"But there are two rounds to go and, if the weather stays like this, there are a lots of birdies that can be made out there."

He picked up two of them with a 15-foot putt on the seventh hole and an 8-footer on the eighth.

He reached the turn in 32, then birdied the 10th from about eight feet. "I thought I had it rolling, and I was really looking for a better score than I finished with," he said.

He made bogey from bunkers on the 14th and 15th, but stretched his margin to three shots with a little chip from the fringe and a 6-foot putt for birdie 4 on the final hole.

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