Couples shoots 5-under 66, leads Persons, Sutton...


Couples shoots 5-under 66, leads Persons, Sutton by 1 in St. 0) Jude

Fred Couples shot a 5-under-par 66 yesterday to pass the leaders and take a 1-stroke advantage over Peter Persons and Hal Sutton after three rounds of the $1 million Federal Express St. Jude Classic.

Couples began the day four strokes behind second-round co-leaders Fuzzy Zoeller and Russ Cochran before posting six birdies against one bogey over the 7,006-yard, par-71 Tournament Players Club at Southwind.

Couples' tournament total of 12-under 201 establishes a Southwind mark for 54 holes, surpassing the 202 set last year by Tom Kite and John Cook.

Two strokes back is Mark Brooks, who is at 10-under 203 in the chase for the $180,000 winner's check.

Mike Hulbert, the winner of last week's Anheuser-Busch Classic, and Zoeller are at 9-under 204.

Couples combined a birdie at No. 2 with birdies on both par-3 holes on the front side to make the turn at 3-under for the day

and 10-under for the tournament.

The four-time PGA Tour winner then posted back-to-back birdies at the 10th and 11th, dropping a 6-foot putt at No. 10 and a 10-footer at No. 11.

Couples, who finished tied for third in the U.S. Open and the Tournament of Champions this year, found the rough off the tee and then a bunker by the green at the par-4 13th. He failed to get up-and-down from there for his lone bogey of the day.

A chip to within 2 feet set up his sixth and final birdie of the day at the par-5 16th.

"The course seemed to firm up and play shorter, but trickier, today," said Couples, whose most recent victory was in the 1990 Los Angeles Open.

"You need to keep the ball in play on the TPC courses and it's so-far-so-good," he said.

Couples downplayed his 54-hole record at Southwind.

"I've led a few other tournaments after 54 holes, but the way people play now, I may need to set a new 72-hole record," Couples said. "You just can't hang on and hang on out here [on the PGA Tour] and win a tournament -- you have to play well."

Senior PGA Southwestern Bell


Al Geiberger dropped a 90-foot birdie putt en route to a 5-under-par 65 and moved into a tie with Jim Colbert at 133 after two rounds.

"That might have been my longest putt ever," said Geiberger, who is looking for his first Senior PGA victory in almost two years.

Larry Laoretti, Chi Chi Rodriguez and Don January were at 4-under and three shots off the lead heading into today's final round of the $450,000 tournament. Rocky Thompson, who shot a 3-under-par 67 yesterday, was tied with George Archer at 137.

Colbert, a local favorite who played football at Kansas State, shot a 67 to go with the 66 that had him in a three-way tie for the first-day lead. Playing one hole behind Geiberger, Colbert made a 20-foot birdie putt on No. 17 to take a one-stroke lead but bogeyed No. 18 when his approach shot went into a bunker.

"I tried to hit a perfect 9-iron on the approach, but the wind fooled me," Colbert said. "I had a thin sand shot, but it carried about 40 feet past the hole."

Geiberger's 65 was the seniors' lowest round to date on the par-70, 6,496-yard Loch Lloyd course. He started the day with a birdie 3 on No. 1, then brought roars from the large gallery when he went eagle-birdie-birdie on No. 13-14-15.

"Overall, I played pretty consistently aside from that stretch. Those three holes were the round, right there," Geiberger said.

He reached the 488-yard 13th with a driver and a 3-wood and made an 18-footer for the eagle. His approach on the par-4 14th carried to the opposite side of the huge, rolling green from the pin but a putt estimated at 90 feet snaked in. He capped the spurt with a 16-foot birdie putt on the par-4 15th.

"I've been playing well for a couple of weeks, and that was just the culmination of it," Geiberger said. "Those three holes are something you wait for."

The 90-foot birdie "felt like a hole-in-one," he said.

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