Originally created 05/08/00

Franco wins Compaq again



NEW ORLEANS -- It's party time in Paraguay again.

Carlos Franco gave his countrymen reason to celebrate by settling down on the second playoff hole Sunday and repeating as champion at the $3.5 million Compaq Classic.

"This is very sweet, very sweet for me, very sweet for my country, very sweet for everyone," Franco said. "I know everyone in my country was watching on television and being very nervous. But now it's OK."

Franco survived a bogey on the first playoff hole then made a 3-foot putt for par on the second to make it OK and win $612,000.

"The trophy is very nice," Franco said. "It's for my wife. I like the money."

The 18th hole was the undoing for Blaine McCallister in both regulation and the playoff.

"I played some good golf today," McCallister said. "It's disappointing to end like I did. I mean, it feels like I just bled all over the place out there."

McCallister, who last won a PGA tournament in 1993, had a one-stroke lead over Franco after 17 holes. His second shot on the 72nd hole went into the front bunker and he missed a 12-foot putt for par. Franco saved par by making a 5-footer, leaving both with closing 4-under-par 68s and 18-under 270 totals after four rounds at the 7,116-yard English Turn Golf & Country Club course.

The playoff started on No. 18 and Franco hit into a fairway bunker off the tee. His third shot went to the fringe of the green and he went about five feet past the hole and made a bogey 5.

McCallister was on in two and had about a 30-footer for birdie, but he missed that and a 4-footer for par.

"That was my opportunity," McCallister said. "I got it on the first hole and hit a first putt that I thought was going to be a little faster than that and left it about four feet short. Then there you are staring at a 4-footer and winning a golf tournament. It's been a long time and the old nerves are going a little bit. And I'll be the first to admit I choked and missed it."

On the second playoff hole, the par-4 16th, McCallister hit into a bunker off the tee and then into a greenside trap which he couldn't get out of. His fourth shot went through the green.

Franco's second shot also went into a greenside trap, but he hit within three feet and made the putt.

"I said to myself, `Carlos, what are you doing? Are you playing golf or playing soccer,"' Franco said.

Last year's victory in New Orleans was the first PGA Tour victory for Franco and his eight rounds in this tournament have all been in the 60s.

Like the second and third rounds when McCallister and Franco shared the lead, the fourth round turned out to be a two-man duel.

Franco seemed to have the upper hand for a time, overcoming two bogeys with six birdies. McCallister played mistake free, but with only two birdies on the front nine.

McCallister birdied the first hole to take a one-stroke lead, picked up a second birdie on the par-5 6th, then did not get another one until No. 14 where he went on a three-birdie streak to go to 19 under, one stroke ahead of Franco.

Franco shook off bogeys at Nos. 5 and 10 and was tied with McCallister at 18 under at 15, where both birdied the difficult par-5 with its island green. But while McCallister birdied No. 16, Franco had to settle for par.

Harrison Frazar, who had 29 on the back nine on Saturday, appeared ready for a final-round run. He started the round at 13 under, one stroke off the lead, and made five birdies on the front nine to pull ahead of the field.

But birdies on 11 and 15 weren't enough to offset a bogey at 12 and a double-bogey at the par-3 17th and he finished with a 68, alone in third at 271.

Steve Stricker had a 64 to finished tied at 272 with Stephen Ames, who had a 68.



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