Originally created 05/30/99

Beem wavers all over, while Armour is steady

POTOMAC, Md. -- In his first full round under the glare of big galleries and cameras, Rich Beem made almost every hole an adventure. In the end, the brilliant birdies and bad bogeys canceled each other out and he still had a share of the lead.

The 28-year-old rookie shot a par round of 71, including five birdies, three bogeys and a double bogey, to tie Tommy Armour III after Saturday's third round at the Kemper Open.

"I do tend to hit it all over the place once in a while," said Beem, who led after the first and second rounds and has a 9-under 204 total. "It was one of the tougher rounds I have had in a long time, and it took a lot of guts for me to hang in there."

On a day of blown chances when no one could seize momentum and hold it, Beem worked his way to 11-under for the tournament and a three-stroke lead before a calamitous back nine. He trailed Armour by one before making a 6-foot putt at the 18th, and he celebrated by pumping his fists.

"I am going to go out there with one scenario, and this is winning," said Beem, whose pro experience consisted of minor tournaments in New Mexico and west Texas until he earned a spot on this year's PGA Tour at qualifying school. "I have come this far, I have nothing to lose. Only good things can happen by coming out and playing aggressive the way I have the last few days."

While Beem was erratic, Armour shot a steady 68 and was bogey-free until he got his first lead. Armour, whose only PGA Tour victory came at the Phoenix Open in 1990, dropped a shot when he found the rough at the 16th, but got it back with a 7-iron to 3 feet for birdie at the par-3 17th.

Two-time Kemper Open champion Bill Glasson, continuing his comeback from serious elbow surgeries, shot a 69 and was two shots off the lead under the baking sunshine at the TPC at Avenel course.

Emlyn Aubrey, seeking his first tour win, was 7-under for the day until he bogeyed the last two holes for a 66, placing him three back.

Playing with unfamiliar distractions such as autographs seekers, cellular phones ringing in the galleries and photographers following every putt, Beem began by hitting his tee shots to the left on each of the first three holes -- leading to bogeys at Nos. 2 and 3.

"I was not comfortable," Beem said. "I was too anxious to get on the golf course. When I run, I start hitting quick hooks, making bad swings."

By the fourth hole, he had steadied himself to birdie the fourth with a 25-foot putt and followed with birdies at the fifth, sixth and 10th.

Then, in his first hole on live network television, the 28-year-old El Paso, Texas, resident put his second shot in the creek at No. 12. He got a double bogey, and also bogeyed No. 15 after two shots in the rough.

The birdie at No. 18 helped save the day.

"It did great things for my spirit," Beem said. "I have held the lead for the first three rounds of each day out here. It feels good to come in tomorrow still being one of the leaders, just kind of helps my morale."

Eric Booker is the only other rookie to have at least a share of the lead in a tournament after three rounds this year. Booker topped the field at the Honda Classic on Saturday, but shot a 77 the next day to finish tied for third.

Armour recently took six weeks off with a shoulder injury, and his best finish this year is a tie for third at the Doral-Ryder Open. He's had some modest success at the Kemper, with three top-10 finishes.

"I won nine years ago on the tour," Armour said. "I think I am a better player (now) day in, day out. I don't make as many dumb mistakes."


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