Non-winner Mediate leads at Pebble BeachAzinger criticizes...


Non-winner Mediate leads at Pebble Beach

Azinger criticizes Poppy Hills course

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- Calm, cool and collected Rocco Mediate took the lead, and Paul Azinger took a verbal shot at Poppy Hills yesterday.

Azinger lost three strokes to par -- and his lead in the AT&T; Pebble Beach National Pro-Am -- on the first two holes of the controversial course that is being used in the tournament for the first time.

"I don't want to get fined," Azinger said when asked for his assessment of the 4-year-old public course that replaced Cypress Point in the three-course rotation.

Then Azinger, rarely critical of anything, reconsidered.

"Let's just put it this way: the best hole on the course definitely is the 19th," he said, then added:

"That ought to be worth $500 [fine]."

While Azinger was going from water to sand and, eventually, to a 1-over-par 73 at Poppy Hills, Mediate used a fast finish -- eagle, birdie, par -- at Spyglass Hill for a 69, a 205 total and a one-shot lead with 18 holes to go.

Mediate, who hasn't won in six seasons on the PGA Tour, completed one round on each of the three Monterey Peninsula courses in 11-under par.

And he did it with a composure the bubbly, enthusiastic young man never had shown when he found himself in title contention.

"I'm more comfortable now," Mediate said. "Sure, I'll be nervous [in today's final 18 holes at Pebble Beach], but so will everyone else. I feel like I can handle that now."

He was in position to do it in this event last year, when he held second place after 54 holes, then blew to a 77 and Mark O'Meara second place after 54 holes, then blew to a 77 and Mark O'Meara romped home with his second consecutive triumph in the tournament formerly known as the Crosby Clambake.

Davis Love III completed a 69 at Poppy Hills with a last-hole birdie and remained one stroke behind Mediate at 206. What better place for a 30-year-old putter than the Senior Tour?

Gary Player, wielding a club he has used since 1961, made seven birdie putts from 3 to 35 feet and shot a 6-under-par 65 for a two-stroke lead.

"I've had this putter for a long time," Player said. "It's traveled over 6 million miles, but it's not tired yet."

Going into today's final round, Player was at 10-under 132, a tournament record for 36 holes. Chi Chi Rodriguez, who shared the first-round lead with Bruce Crampton, shot a 68 and was in second place at 8-under.

Al Geiberger, winless last year, was third at 7-under.

Crampton fell to 6-under when he drove into a patch of mangroves at No. 18 and took a double bogey to finish with a 70. Defending champion Lee Trevino shot a 66 and was tied with Crampton and three others for fourth place.

The $460,000 tournament is the first full-field event of the Senior Tour season.

Oldsmobile LPGA Classic


Meg Mallon, seeking her first victory on the women's golf tour, started with a 60-foot birdie en route to a 3-under-par 69 and a two-stroke lead entering the final round of the $400,000 tournament.

Mallon started the third round in the rain, tied for the lead with Dottie Mochrie and Colleen Walker, but the 27-year-old former Ohio State player soon found herself alone on top and finished the round 11-under at 205.

Playing in the same trio with Mochrie and Walker on the 6,324-yard par-72 Wycliffe Golf and Country Club course, Mallon reached the 395-yard, par-4 first hole with a 4-wood before dropping the mammoth putt.

Mochrie, who won the LPGA Classic two years ago, double-bogeyed the first hole, going into the water with her second shot after a poor drive into the rough. Walker tarted her dive to 77 and a 216 by bogeying the third hole.

Betsy King, the 1989 Player of the Year, remained two strokes behind in the race for the $60,000 first prize, shooting 69.

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