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GOLF ROUNDUP : Watson, Zoeller on Heels of Azinger After 3 Rounds

From Associated Press

Two veterans on a comeback will be chasing a lanky lad who never went away in today’s final round of the Players Championship.

Paul Azinger, one of the PGA Tour’s leading performers over the past five seasons, retained a one-stroke lead with a third-round 69 in near-ideal playing conditions Saturday at Ponte Vedra, Fla.

Azinger, whose victory at Pebble Beach earlier this season marked the fifth consecutive year he has won at least one tournament, is at 204.

But he couldn’t shake Fuzzy Zoeller, a nonwinner since 1986. And Tom Watson once again put himself into the hunt in what he called “a stepping stone season.”

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Zoeller, as is his custom, was casually whistling--and, on one occasion, flashing an embarrassed smile--as he shot a 69 and remained one stroke back.

His second shot on the par-four 14th hole was enough to bring on a song. His drive landed against the face of a sharp slope. He had to get the ball up very quickly to clear the top of the mini-cliff and was unable to take a proper stance. “I thought about sitting down to hit it,” he said.

Instead, he hit with his left foot propped up on the slope about three feet higher than his right.

“I hit a five-iron straight up,” he said. “It’s not a shot you find on page 35 of Golf Digest. I hit it straight up, just trying to get it around the green.”

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It arched in to within 18 inches of the cup for an easy birdie.

Watson, a five-time British Open champion who scored the last of his 32 American victories in 1987, went past 20 players into a tie for third at 207 with a 65--16 strokes better than he played the third round in this event a year ago.

Watson had 10 threes--including five birdies and an eagle--and over one stretch one-putted nine holes in a row.

“I haven’t had a putting round like that for a long time,” said Watson, who has had putting problems for more than a year.

Lee Trevino had an eagle and four birdies in a round of five-under-par 67 to share the lead with Miller Barber after the second round of a seniors tournament at Kurimoto, Japan.

Trevino and Barber, who shot a 68, have nine-under-par 135 totals on the 6,657-yard, par-72 Oak Hills Country Club course. Billy Casper (67) and Japan’s Seiichi Kanai (68) are tied for third at 138.


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