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Lowery's eagle, double eagle not enough

8/6/2002

CASTLE ROCK, Colo. -- Rich Beem's comment to Steve Lowery on
the 18th green said it all: ''It doesn't get any better than
that.''

Beem carded seven birdies and made a critical eagle on the 17th
hole to hold off a furious rally by Lowery and claim The
International on Sunday.

Over the final five holes, Lowery had a rare double eagle, an
eagle and a birdie.

''It got completely hairy,'' Beem said. ''I played as good as I
could. It was probably the best round of golf I've ever played
under any conditions.''

''It was amazing,'' Lowery said. ''I hit my best shot of the
week out of the woods on No. 13 and followed that with three or
four other shots that were probably better than that.''

Beem, playing the last six holes gingerly because of a back that
stiffened up during a weather delay, had a 19-point round for a
total of 44 points under the modified Stableford scoring system
used in this event.

Beem beat Lowery by a single point for his second career
victory.

The scoring system awards 8 points for double eagle, 5 points
for eagle, 2 for birdie, zero for par, minus-1 for bogey and
minus-3 for double bogey or worse.

Lowery holed out a 6-iron from 217 yards on the par-5 17th for a
double-eagle 2, gaining 8 points and cutting the deficit to 1.

Beem parred the 18th, then watched anxiously from the side of
the green as Lowery, with a 10-foot birdie putt for the win, ran it
just past the left edge.

''Watching Steve have the opportunity to win was one of the most
stressful times of my life,'' Beem said.

Lowery, who won this tournament in 1994, erased almost all of
Beem's 10-point lead after the weather delay.

Lowery hit his second shot into a greenside pond on the par-5
14th hole. Removing his right shoe and sock and donning a rain
suit, he blasted out to 15 feet and made birdie.

Lowery then holed out his wedge from the fairway for an eagle 2
on the 15th hole, pulling within 3 points of Beem.

Moments after Lowery bogeyed No. 16 to fall 4 points back, Beem
reached the par-5 17th in two and drained the 15-foot putt for an
eagle, punching the air twice with his fist.

That boosted the lead back to 9 points, but Lowery wasn't
finished. His double eagle was only the third in tournament
history.

Lowery admitted he thought that won the tournament. Not until he
picked his ball out of the cup did he spot a scoreboard and see
that Beem had eagled that hole minutes earlier.

''I was doing the math,'' Lowery said. ''I thought Rich probably
had made birdie. So then I had to regroup and tried to birdie the
last hole.

''On 18, I hit two aggressive shots and a great putt that didn't
break until it got past the hole. I was playing to win, so I'm
disappointed.''

The field, cut in the traditional manner after 36 holes, was cut
again to the top 36 players and ties for Sunday's final round at
Castle Pines Golf Club.

The leaders had six holes remaining when lightning and rain
caused a suspension of play for 1 hour, 11 minutes.

Several of the game's big names were in contention entering the
final round, but couldn't match Beem's pace.

Greg Norman, winless since 1997, made an early run. Norman had
five birdies on the front nine, at one time getting within a point
of the lead. But he bogeyed No. 10 and double bogeyed No. 12.

British Open champion Ernie Els got within 4 points of the lead
but fell back with a double bogey at No. 9.

Sergio Garcia, who rallied into contention with a 19-point round
on Saturday, faded badly with four straight bogeys. He was never a
factor, finishing at 19.

Craig Barlow, the third-round leader, took back-to-back double
bogeys at the fourth and fifth holes.

Mark Brooks, 2 points off the lead entering the final round, had
four bogeys in his first 12 holes and finished at 33.

Beem, who won the Kemper Open in 1999 and was second there this
year, pocketed $810,000 and climbed to 15th on the money list.

Beem birdied five holes on the front side and built a 4-point
lead.

Beem, who began the day 3 points off the pace, took the lead
with his second birdie of the day on the fifth hole.

Beem made the turn with a total of 35 points. Lowery was in
second place with 31 points. Norman had 28 and Brooks 26.

Beem sank a 5-foot birdie putt on the 10th hole. After Lowery
bunkered his tee shot on the par-3 11th and bogeyed, Beem's lead
was 8 points.

He extended his margin to 10 points on the next hole, sinking a
17-foot birdie putt.

Moments later, play was halted by lightning and rain.