Originally created 04/27/97

Faxon joins crowded leaderboard



GREENSBORO, N.C. - Brad Faxon usually says "no thanks" when people ask to show him video of his swing during a tournament.

But Faxon had little choice after Friday's second round of the Greater Greensboro Chrysler Classic when he was summoned to the CBS booth following his round and analyst Peter Kostis began breaking down his swing.

"I don't ever remember somebody taking me to the TV tower and saying, `Hey, look,"' said Faxon, who took his turn atop what has been a crowded leaderboard, shooting a tournament-low 65 on Saturday to tie Tom Kite after three rounds. "I get a little bit nervous when I'm playing in a tournament and somebody says, `Here is your swing, do you want to look at it?"'

Faxon went against his better judgment and marched right to the range and began working on the shoulder turn tip relayed by Kostis.

Bingo.

"My irons were radar-like today," said Faxon, who fired his 7-under-par round during the tournament's first day without a lift-clean-and-place rule to come in at 14-under 202. He had a stretch in the middle of his round where he birdied six of eight holes.

"I was coming through the ball beautifully," Faxon said.

Kite, who was tied for the lead Friday at 9-under, joined Faxon with a 4-under par back nine and a round of 67. The U.S. Ryder Cup captain started the tournament with a 67 and had a 68 Friday.

The co-leaders the first two days of the $1.9 million event had no more than a one-stroke lead and 22 players were within three shots of the lead after Friday's second round. But Faxon and Kite hold a three-shot margin over four players at 11-under, including 1994 U.S. Open champion Ernie Els.

Faxon, whose victory three weeks ago in the Freeport-McDermott Classic was his first in more than four years, birdied four of his final six holes on the front side at Forest Oaks Country Club to shoot a 32. He then birdied Nos. 10 and 11 to go 6-under, and closed with a birdie on No. 18.

Faxon, seventh on the PGA Tour's money list, has been a hard-luck loser recently, finishing second four times last season. He also finished second last week in the MCI Classic in Hilton Head Island, S.C.

The key to Kite's round were approach shots at holes 11 and 12 that landed no more than 1« feet from the cup.

"I'm feeling good out there on the golf course,' said Kite, seeking his first win on the PGA Tour since 1993. "I've got the right amount of nervousness. I'm a little shared, a little nervous but not overly so. It feels very nice."

A tournament with a history of poor weather might see some more during today's final round, when forecasters are predicting a 90 percent chance of rain. The last time the final round was pushed to Monday was in 1983, when Thursday's first round was delayed by bad weather and Saturday's round was lost to rain.

Faxon and Kite admitted they thought about making a big push toward the lead after three rounds in case there was a washout or one-hole playoff Sunday.

"This was a crucial round for the whole field," said Kite. "My caddie and I talked about it and we treated this like the last round, that there weren't going to be any holes to go after this."

Mike Hulbert, who held shares of the lead the first two days, started at 9-under, and had shot a combined 9-under on the front side Thursday and Friday. But Hulbert took a triple-bogey 7 on the seventh hole for a 40 on the front to fall from contention with a 77.

Tour rookie Robert Damron had a 5-under 67 and is tied with Els, Jerry Kelly and Kirk Triplett at 11-under 205 - three shots off the lead. Paul Stankowski is another shot back after his 69.

"I'm not surprised to see myself up there I've been playing well," Damron said. "I'm not staring at it saying, `Oh my gosh look at that, I'm on the leaderboard.' I never felt like a fish out of water today."

Els put together three straight rounds in the 60s for the first time this season in nine events, shooting 69-69-67.

"I have been quite hard on myself this year," said Els. "That's just a normal phase you go through when you're not playing well. When you make mistakes you feel it's double hard to get back."

Faxon, Kite and others are threatening break the 72-hole mark of 17-under at Forest Oaks, set in 1988 by Sandy Lyle and Ken Green.