Calcavecchia Takes Lead After Rolling Another 67

Times Staff Writer

Mark Calcavecchia shot a 67 Saturday to become the fourth leader in as many days in the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic.

Calcavecchia, who also had 67s Thursday and Friday, said: “That’s a good number to get stuck on, but I don’t know if it will be good enough tomorrow.”

Today, at Bermuda Dunes, the host course, the pros will leave their amateur partners behind for the final 18-hole shootout of the 90-hole tournament.

Calcavecchia has a 72-hole total of 272, 16 under par. However, Paul Azinger, Steve Jones, Tom Kite and Sandy Lyle are only 2 strokes back.


Seven players are at 275, including Fred Couples, Bernhard Langer, Brad Bryant and Scott Verplank.

Jones, who won the first tournament of the PGA Tour last week, the Tournament of Champions at La Costa, shot his way back into contention with a course-record 63 at Eldorado.

After he shot 76 on the first day on the wind-blown Palmer PGA West course, he said he was ready to return to his home in Phoenix.

“I’ve never really played well here. I’ve made the cut only once out of four times,” Jones said. He got back to even par on the second day and kept improving.

Jones broke a record previously shared by Arnold Palmer, Bo Wininger and Don Fairfield.

Starting from the 10th hole, Jones had 2 eagles on his round. A 1-iron shot and a 12-foot putt gave him his first eagle on No. 1. Then, on the ninth hole, he hit an 8-iron to the green and sank a 15-foot putt. He also had 5 birdies in his round.

“I’ve played well all week, even though I had 3 double bogeys the first day when the wind was blowing hard on the Palmer course,” Jones said.

The wind subsided Saturday on a clear, mild day in the desert.

Calcavecchia, 28, a long-hitter from West Palm Beach, Fla., played at Indian Wells.

“I screwed up the 3 par-5 holes, as I was only 1 under on them, but I made some long putts,” Calcavecchia said. “I’m just happy to be leading.”

He made a 25-foot putt on the first hole for a birdie, then rolled in a 50-footer on No. 2 for another birdie, both par 4s. He birdied the par-5, 517-yard fifth hole and got another birdie on No. 9, a par-4 hole, with a sand wedge and 1-foot putt. He had only 1 birdie on the back side, though, a 4-foot putt at the 354-yard 16th hole.

Although he was disappointed in not lowering his score on the par-5 holes Saturday, he noted that he is 11 under on the par 5s this week, concluding: “There’s nothing wrong with that.”

Calcavecchia was sixth on the money list last year, earning $751,912. If his lead holds up here, he’ll get a first-prize check of $180,000 out of a total purse of $1 million.

Kite, who shot a 69 at Bermuda Dunes, said he didn’t get as much out of his round as he should have.

“I finished on a sour note with a bogey at 17 (a par-3 hole),” he said.

He had a bogey on the par-4, 418-yard second hole but compensated with 5 birdies.

Kite is repeatedly asked about not winning a tournament in 1988 after winning at least one tournament in 7 previous years.

“I had the potential of winning 4 tournaments last year, and I was only 1 shot away from being the leading money-winner,” he said.

He was referring to his playoff loss to Curtis Strange in the Nabisco Championship last November, the winner getting a check for $360,000.

As it was, Kite won $760,405 as the fifth leading money-winner.

Azinger says he has played well in the desert in previous years.

“I have had a solid week here,” said Azinger, who shot 67 at the Palmer PGA West Course. “I had a humbling experience in the Tournament of Champons, when I was dead last after the first two rounds.”

Ted Schulz, who shot a 69 at Palmer PGA West, is among a group that is only 3 strokes off the lead. He is not a prominent player, as he got into the tournament on a sponsor’s exemption this week and played on the Asian tour last year.

However, he has local knowledge, since he worked as manager of the driving range at Bermuda Dunes in 1983 and part of 1984.

When he wasn’t shagging balls, he played the course and said that he shot 63 a few times in casual rounds at Bermuda Dunes.

Now he’ll get an opportunity for a low score today on the same course under tournament conditions.

Golf Notes

Bernhard Langer, who shot a 69 at Palmer PGA West and is in a group at 275, said he hasn’t played since early December. “I’ve been resting and went home to West Germany for the holidays,” he said. Langer, the 1985 Masters champion who was troubled with back problems in 1988, said: “It was probably the worst year of my life, health-wise.” He is feeling reasonably fit now, even though his back stiffens on him in cold weather. “I know I can win out here,” he said. “It’s just a case of getting it together.”

Steve Pate, a former UCLA star who had a 62 Friday, including a hole-in-one, had a a 69 at El Dorado for a 4-day total of 283, 11 strokes off the lead. . . . Dave Edwards shot a 63 at Palmer PGA West and missed the cut by a stroke. The cut was 285.