Campbell streaks to front with 10-under 61
HOUSTON -- Everyone says Chad Campbell is a star in the making. All anyone needed to see was his record round Saturday in the Tour Championship.
Campbell, going nowhere on the leaderboard after eight holes, poured it on at Champions Golf Club and finished with a 10-under 61, setting the course and tournament record and taking a one-stroke lead.
''I just kept trying to hit good shots,'' Campbell said.
Starting the third round five shots out of the lead, the 29-year-old from West Texas only wanted to make up ground. He wasn't even aware that birdies on the final two holes would have given him a 59.
''He messed up on 17 and made par,'' Tiger Woods deadpanned.
Campbell, the highest player on the money list (No. 9) without a victory, was at 13-under 200 and will be in the final pairing for the first time in two years.
Charles Howell III shot his third straight 67, was one stroke behind and in a mild state of shock.
''I didn't think if I shot 67 today I would be one shot back,'' he said.
Howell started the third round with a one-stroke lead over Fred Funk, played solidly throughout the cool, overcast day and saw a leaderboard for the first time on No. 15 that showed Campbell in the lead by three shots.
''It was a bit of a jolt, to be fair'' Howell said. ''I felt pretty strongly that I needed to make a couple of birdies coming in.''
Howell did just that, including a 55-footer from just off the 17th green.
Campbell broke the Champions Golf Club and the tournament record, previously held by Jim Furyk and set in third round of the 2001 Tour Championship.
A year ago at East Lake, Howell shot all four rounds in the 60s, but Vijay Singh surged past him on Saturday and hung on for a two-stroke victory.
This time it was Campbell and his awesome display of shotmaking and putting.
''We kept hearing cheers,'' said Steve Flesch, playing in the group behind Campbell. ''Once we knew he was 8 or 9 under, it was like, 'No way he made it from there!'''
The putt that should have told Campbell it was going to be his day came at the par-3 12th, where he left his tee shot some 75 feet short of the cup. The ball hit the back of the hole, hopped into the air and dropped in for birdie.
He also holed a 15-footer for eagle on No. 9 to start his amazing run, chipped in for birdie on No. 10 and did little else wrong.
The same couldn't be said for Woods.
His four-year reign atop the PGA Tour money list essentially came to an end Saturday when Woods missed four putts inside 10 feet -- one of them for eagle -- and finished with an even-par 71 to wind up 11 shots out of the lead.
Woods needed a victory this week to overcome Singh on the money list.
Singh got to within four shots of the lead, but wound up with a 67 and was in ninth place, eight strokes behind.
''I think I've secured it,'' Singh said of his first money title. ''That wasn't my concern coming over here. I wanted to play well in this tournament and I'm playing well. I'm just not scoring as good as I want.
''I'm a little disappointed that I only shot 4 under, and a little disappointed that Chad is running away with it.''
Not so fast.
Campbell is in the final pairing for the first time since the 2001 Southern Farm Bureau Classic, where he had a three-shot lead and was passed by Cameron Beckman.
And it's never easy to put together great rounds on consecutive plays.
There's also the experience factor.
''Between the two of us, we've amassed a total of one win,'' Howell said of his final pairing Sunday with Campbell.
''It's going to be a shootout,'' Riley said.
Riley and Campbell were roommates at UNLV. He knows they can't keep a room clean, and he knows Campbell has plenty of game, although few words.
''I can hardly get a couple of words out of him, and I've known him for nine years,'' Riley said. ''That's what makes him so good. Nothing really gets to him.''
One thing bugs Campbell. For all his talent, he's anxious for that first victory.
''I've put myself in position to win a lot this year,'' Campbell said. ''I haven't been able to pull it off. Hopefully, tomorrow it will work out differently.''
There won't be much drama in the other departments.
The focus at the start of the PGA Tour's final tournament was on Singh and Woods, battling for the money title and PGA Tour player of the year, along with Masters champion Mike Weir and Davis Love III.
Love is the only one with an outside shot of winning. He had another 67 on Saturday but was still seven shots behind.
Singh is assured of winning the money title. Woods is assured the Vardon Trophy for the lowest scoring average. Player of the Year comes down to a vote of the players.
''It was all in our hands at the beginning of the week,'' Woods said. ''It's in the voting hands now. It comes down to what they believe is a better year -- money list, Vardon Trophy, top 10s, wins, majors.''
Steve Flesch's caddie, Bennie Englebrecht, had to leave Friday night because his grandfather died. Flesch hired 15-year-old Eric Durkin, a member at Champions, to tote his bag. Flesch shot a 67 and was six strokes behind. ''I didn't throw any clubs,'' Flesch said. ''We had a great day.'' ... Chad Campbell and Shaun Micheel, often mistaken for each other under their Cleveland caps, will play together in the Shark Shootout next week.
Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press