Advertisement

In Last Round, It’s 3 Friends And a Payday : Golf: Pate leads his ex-UCLA teammate Pavin and neighbor Faxon by one stroke.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Brad Faxon was going to have dinner Saturday evening with buddy Corey Pavin, and tonight he’s going to drive to Los Angeles with pal Steve Pate.

Pate and Pavin went to school together at UCLA. Pate and Faxon are neighbors in Orlando. Faxon and Pavin used to stay together at Pavin’s in-laws in Los Angeles.

Today the boys will get together as a threesome for a round of golf on Torrey Pines’ South course . . . Just a friendly round of golf, and may the best man win $180,000 as the Shearson Lehman Brothers Open champion.

“I hope Brad plays well,” Pate said, “and I play better.

Advertisement

“And as well as Corey is playing, (Faxon) can play well and still get beat.”

Pate has a one-stroke edge on Pavin and Faxon as the tournament’s third-round leader with a 17-under-par 199. He also has final-round expertise here, as evidenced by his closing 68 in 1988 to win the then-Shearson Lehman Hutton Open.

Faxon and Pavin, however, are no strangers to success here, either. Pavin won the Junior World championship at Torrey Pines in 1977, and Faxon has placed both second and fifth in this tournament.

“Here’s as good a place as any to win,” said Faxon, who has yet to win a tournament in his eight years on the Tour. “I’ve grown to really like playing Torrey. I heard somebody say they are going to play someplace else in 1995, and that’s depressing.”

Advertisement

Three years ago, Faxon led this tournament after three rounds, only to lose on the final day to Pate.

“I’ve had my acceptance speech ready before,” Faxon said. “Steve and I were partners in that final round. He got hot early and I had a bogey on 17 and that was the killer . . . I’ve chalked that up to experience.”

Pate and Faxon posted five-under 67s Saturday, and Pavin, the tour’s hottest golfer, matched Buddy Gardner’s 65 for low score of the day.

Jay Don Blake shot a 67 to stay within two shots of Pate, and Robert Wrenn carded a 68 and Emlyn Aubrey a 69 to fall another shot back, at 202.

Advertisement

The name of Dan Forsman, who is the tournament’s defending champion, was coming off the leader board about the time he eagled No. 18. Forsman shot a 71 to tie Jim Hallet, who had a 66, and Ben Crenshaw, who carded a 70, at 203.

Bill Sander, who was two strokes off the lead after the second round, was one-under Saturday but fell five strokes off the pace. Jim Thorpe, meanwhile, dropped out of sight. After closing to within three shots of the lead Friday, Thorpe fell to 77 Saturday.

Amateur Phil Mickelson, who had the headlines earlier in the week, was at 211 after adding a one-under 71 to rounds of 66 and 74.

No one, however, has received as much attention as Pavin recently. A few more trips to the pressroom and he’ll be eligible for a degree in journalism.

Advertisement

“I’ve never played any better golf than I’m playing now,” Pavin said.

Pavin won last week’s Bob Hope Chrysler Classic after tying for second the week before in the AT&T; Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. He’s the Tour’s leading money winner with $338,300, and he’s on the verge of enjoying another handsome payday.

“I was pleased to hang in there today,” said Pavin, who has eight career tour victories. “It was not my best effort of the year.”

Pavin used a 60-foot putt on the par three 175-yard third hole to ignite his birdie barrage. Among his seven birdies was a chip-in from 60 feet on the par three 206-yard eleventh hole.

Advertisement

The shot of the day, however, came off Pate’s wedge. After he dropped a 30-foot putt on the first hole for a birdie, he went to his wedge from 83 yards on the par four 350-yard second hole. The ball hit in front of the pin, bounced behind it and then reversed its field, rolling into the cup for an eagle.

“It was kind of a weird round,” Pate said. “The score was fine, but I just didn’t hit a lot of good shots. I didn’t birdie a (single) par five.”

Faxon was playing golf according to Hoyle. For the second day in a row, he said, he didn’t miss a green. He birdied the first hole from eight feet, the third from 20, and after a three-putt from 100 feet on the fourth hole for a bogey, he collected four more birdies.

“I just love to play with Ben Crenshaw,” he said. “I’m not afraid to say I’m still trying to learn from a guy like that.”

Advertisement

Crenshaw went two-under on the front side but gained no more ground on his final nine. Crenshaw will join Hallet, who had a pair of 33s, and Forsman in the third-to-last group off the first tee.

“I feel pretty good about my position,” said Hallet, who lost his chance for his first tournament win in a playoff with Kenny Knox in last year’s Buick Southern Open. “I have an idea now what it feels like to be in contention. I finished in a tie for 10th last week and shot 64 on Sunday, so you never know what might happen.”

That’s why Steve Jones is still in the hunt. Jones chipped in for an eagle on the second hole, and then tapped in a two-foot-putt for an eagle on the par five 533-yard 13th hole. His 67 and three-day total of 205 left him six strokes behind the leader.

No such fireworks for a “real consistent” Blake, who will play with Wrenn and Aubrey just ahead of the leaders.

Advertisement

“I’ve just been hitting a lot of fairways and greens,” Blake said. “Now I just have to go out and hit the shots I’ve been hitting and be patient. I’ll try to keep my composure and enjoy myself as much as I can.”

Pate and friends, however, have similar plans. But will it be Pate or Pavin or Faxon who has the most fun?

“Steve and I may have something to say about how well Corey has been playing,” Faxon said, “but then there are a zillion golfers out there who can shoot a score and win it.”


Advertisement
Advertisement