Originally created 05/27/01

Howell's 65 puts him in Kemper hunt



POTOMAC, Md. - Brent Schwarzrock watched television because he had nothing else to do. Pete Cleaves watched TV because he had to. Augusta's Charles Howell III fell asleep in a courtesy van.

There were many ways of passing the long hours Saturday at the Kemper Insurance Open, where rain forced officials to postpone the third round and schedule 36 holes for Sunday.

"If I ever get through this week, I'm going to buy a television set without The Weather Channel," said Cleaves, the tournament's general chairman, "because I'm so tired of looking at it."

A break in the weather between morning rain and an evening storm did allow about two hours of golf Saturday, enough time to complete the second round for 30 or so players who were left on the course when darkness halted play Friday night.

Schwarzrock, two shots off the lead at 7 under after 13 holes Friday, woke before 6 a.m. Saturday for what turned out to be a 2 p.m. tee time. He made five pars and was done.

Howell sought refuge - or at least 40 winks - in a courtesy van.

"I've never gotten up at 5:30 for a 2:30 tee time, that's for sure," said Howell, who is 6 under, three off the lead.

Howell, who has won $237,290 in just two of four PGA Tour events this year, needs only $9,747 to earn unlimited sponsor exemptions for the remainder of the year.

The top three players on the leaderboard didn't play at all, having finished their second rounds before or after the big storm that disrupted Friday's play.

Australian Bradley Hughes, who tied a course record with a 63 Friday, heads into Sunday as the leader at 9 under, one stroke ahead of Lee Porter and Frank Lickliter II. Schwarzrock and Bob Estes, who picked up two strokes finishing his round Saturday, joined Phil Mickelson and four others in a seven-way tie two strokes back at 7 under.

Of the 10 players within two strokes of the lead, six have never won on the PGA Tour. The Kemper has produced a first-time tour winner three times in the last five years, and nine times since moving to the Washington area in 1980.

The Kemper has also never been shortened by weather, but this might be the toughest test yet. The course endured a 31-day drought before rain returned last Sunday. More than 10 inches have fallen since, and Sunday's forecast called for a 30 percent chance of scattered showers and thunderstorms.

This will be the second time this year that a PGA Tour event has scheduled 36 holes for Sunday. The BellSouth Classic in Atlanta did so the week before the Masters.

SENIOR PGA: Tom Watson finished with five straight birdies and grabbed a share of the lead after three rounds of the Senior PGA Championship on Saturday.

Jim Thorpe, the leader after the first two rounds, also birdied the final hole on the Ridgewood Country Club in Paramus, N.J., to move into a share for the lead along with Bob Gilder at 9 under.

Georgian Allen Doyle, who won this event two years ago, was a shot behind the leader, and three ahead of Bruce Fleisher. Stewart Ginn of Australia was sixth at 4 under.

The last two members of golf's Big Three left in this event also played well. Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player both had 1-under 71s and were in a group seven shots off the lead heading into the final day of the second major event on the senior tour.

The third round belonged to Watson, whose 6-under 66 was the best round of the tournament. Gilder had a 70 on Saturday, one shot better than Thorpe.

Playing with Watson, Doyle had a 68 in a round - that like Watson - featured a 5-under 31 on the back nine.

LPGA CORNING CLASSIC: Mhairi McKay of Scotland shot a 4-under-par 68 Saturday to retain her lead after three rounds of the LPGA Corning Classic in Corning, N.Y., but Sweden's Maria Hjorth zoomed up the leaderboard within one shot with a sizzling 63.

McKay, who entered the round at 10 under, was at 202 after her third solid round in the 60s. She notched an eagle on No. 5, a 449-yard par 5, and got to 15 under with birdie on 15. But a three-putt bogey on 17 from 30 feet knocked her back a shot.

Hjorth tied tournament records for low score and most birdies, notching 10. The low score was set by Patty Sheehan on the fourth round in 1983 and equaled by Sherri Turner in 1988 on the second round. Turner also shared the birdie record with Barbara Mizrahe and Rosie Jones.

Despite their lofty positions atop the leaderboard, McKay and Hjorth had plenty of company - a dozen players were within six shots of the lead.