Britton soars to third on wings of sixth-hole eagle


POTOMAC -- Bill Britton, playing just in front of the four top third-round players, said he didn't pay attention to the last-round scoreboard. He was more concerned with his own game.

Britton, 35, and a 10-year tour veteran, capped a solid week with a second straight 5-under-par 66 for a 72-hole 266, and what turned out to be sole possession of third place and a check for $68,000.

"I was kind of surprised after yesterday's [Saturday's] scores, but felt if I had a lucky day I'd have a shot at it," he said.

"I felt like I played well all day, highlighted by the eagle at No. 6, where I was on the front edge in two and made a 60-foot putt."

When Britton birdied the 13th, it got him a piece of the lead with Jeff Sluman and Billy Andrade, but Sluman pulled away with two birdies and Britton dropped back with a bogey at the 17th.

Of the eight cuts he has made this year, Britton, whose best previous finish had been a tie for fifth at the K mart Greater Greensboro Open, has had five last rounds in the 60s, with yesterday's the lowest.

The Staten Island, N.Y., native, who has seen a lot of progress in his game the past four years, including his only tour victory, made the solid showing with a substitute caddie, former Baltimore area amateur standout Jimmy Glass, now living in Burtonsville.

Britton was staying with Glass and had to press him into service when regular Frank Williams and Ray Reavis (Brad Fabel's caddie) were injured in an automobile accident Wednesday when they were on their way to Woodmont Country Club in Rockville to map yardages for today's U.S. Open qualifier.

"Williams shattered his kneecap and will be in a cast for six months, and Reavis broke his hip," said Glass, a one-time pro who regained his amateur status and is the Mid-Atlantic regional manager for Izod.

"For me, it was 10 hours on the golf course and four hours in the tub. I'm not used to this stuff," Glass said.

Two others, one in each of the two groups behind Britton, were also a part of the drama.

"I just didn't have it my way," said Greg Norman, who hung around the leaders until he bogeyed the 14th about the same time Sluman birdied the 13th.

"It was bittersweet. I got my game in shape, but I didn't win. At 14, I hit a 3-iron shot too far right, and pushed it into the creek. The eagle at No. 6 [on in two and a 12-foot putt] was my only piece of glory. It's just the way it goes."

Hal Sutton, who has not had much of anything going all year other than a tie for third at the Byron Nelson, two shots behind winner Nick Price, was also around the lead until he double-bogeyed the 12th.

"I drove it in the fairway at 12, but my ball had a clump of grass right behind it. I hung my club in it on the backswing and normally you would swing faster to offset it and hit it left. So I eased off and hit it way right.

"Still, it wasn't far from a really good shot. It's not an excuse; those things happen. If I don't make double there, I'm in the golf tournament. Still, it wasn't far from a really good shot. It's not an excuse; those things happen."

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