Despite 71, Watson Holds a One-Stroke Lead Over Glasson

Associated Press

Tom Watson managed to hold onto a slim lead Saturday after shooting a par 71 in the fourth round of the $950,000 Panasonic Las Vegas Invitational golf tournament.

The six-time PGA Player of the Year has a one-stroke lead over Billy Glasson.

Watson, who previously shot rounds of 66, 65 and 68, fell victim to some putting problems "and a 71 cropped up," he said.

His round on the Las Vegas Country Club course left him with a 72-hole total of 270 going into today's final round in his bid for the $171,000 first prize in the richest event on the American tour.

Glasson, who has had surgery on his knees on four occasions, wears a pair of braces on his knees and moves slowly and with obvious discomfort. He was unable to maintain his fast early pace and finished with a 69.

Still, that was good enough to cut two shots off Watson's third-round lead and lift him to within a single stroke at 271.

"I really thought I was going to make a big move," Glasson said after birdieing four of his first five holes, "but I think I got a little tired. I wasn't concentrating. There were a couple of three-putts, just brain cramps."

"We both let the field get close to us," Watson said.

Curtis Strange, a winner two weeks ago, and Jay Haas closed within two strokes at 272. Strange had a no-bogey 66, and Haas had a 67.

Mac O'Grady, with a 65, and Mike Smith, with a 71, were another stroke back at 273. And Mike Reid and Johnny Miller, at 274, were four back. Reid had a 66 and Miller 68.

Mark O'Meara, needing to couple a victory here with the title he won in the Bing Crosby to claim a $250,000 bonus prize, appeared out of it. He had a 69 and was at 283, 13 strokes behind.

U.S. Open champ Fuzzy Zoeller had a 71 and was at 280.

Watson was annoyed when he failed to open up the margin.

"I certainly didn't play very good golf today," he said. "I didn't do anything particularly well. I couldn't get the ball close to the hole and I three-putted a couple of times."

One of those was for a bogey on the ninth, and the other was for a par-5 on the 18th.

Glasson, who hasn't finished higher than fifth in a three-year PGA Tour career, was four-under par after five holes. But he bogeyed the seventh after driving into the trees, then sandwiched his only back-nine birdie between a pair of three-putts.

"But he hung right in there, didn't he?" Watson said.

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