Love, at 71, keeps Kemper lead

POTOMAC — POTOMAC -- Davis Love III is certain of one thing as he enters today's final round of the $1.4 million Kemper Open with a one-stroke lead.

Another par 71 like he shot yesterday won't be good enough to win. But he's not likely to need anything as dazzling as his 8-under 63 that tied the Kemper and Tournament Players Club at Avenel course record on Friday, either.


"It'll take a good round," Love said. "I can't shoot a 71 and stay in the lead. I've got to hole putts like I did Friday."

Love, the PGA Tour's No. 2 money-winner this year, had a spotty round that included three bogeys and three birdies, leaving him with a total of 11-under 202, ahead of Payne Stewart (203) and Corey Pavin (204), who duplicated Love's Friday feat with a 63 yesterday. Love went into the third round with a two-stroke edge on Scott Hoch.


It's crowded at the top. Six players are at 205, three at 206 and six at 207. Any player of 30 could win the first prize of $252,000. This year, several tour winners have come from as far back as seven strokes on the final day.

Stewart said that Love "could have gone out and hid from the field." But after going 13-under on the fifth hole, Love bogeyed the sixth, ninth and 11th, leaving him 10-under, before making a birdie on the 14th.

"My putting wasn't great and I hit a few bad irons, although only one terrible," Love said. "But that cost me a chance at a birdie on an easy hole.

"The way I figure it, I got my bad round out of the way and I'm still leading. I hung in pretty good. Win or lose tomorrow, I'll still be ready for the U.S. Open next week."

On No. 6, Love had an unnerving experience when his tee shot struck a female spectator on the back of the head.

"Before I knew who it hit, I said, 'Please don't let it be a little kid,' " Love said. "She said, 'You owe me a ball and an autograph.' I got her address and said I'd send more than that -- some stuff, but it's between me and her."

Stewart strode into the interview room after his 65, attired in his trademark knickers, or plus-fours. His colors were teal, black and gold, and there was a Jacksonville Jaguar on his shirt. He has a contract with NFL Properties.

"My only mistake was three-putting the ninth," Stewart said. "I'm proud of myself, because I came back with two good ones on the 10th, holing a 10-footer there."


From last week at the Memorial Tournament in Dublin, Ohio, to the Kemper: "It's night and day," he said.

His Memorial rounds were 70, 75, 71 and 71, resulting in a tie for 59th. Now, suddenly, he trusts his swing and has reeled off rounds of 69, 69 and 65.

"My swing path was really off," Stewart said. "I was hitting some divots that were scary. The divot went one way and the ball went the other. I played from some unique spots last week, believe me."

The about-face occurred early this week after Stewart enlisted the help of Chuck Cook.

"He's a wonderful teacher," Stewart said. "He had me close my stance and feel the club from the inside. I hit some balls on the range today. When you go out there trusting your swing, it's easy to aim and hit."

Stewart developed the trust at an opportune time, the week before a major tournament, the U.S. Open, which will be at Shinnecock Hills in Southampton, N.Y.


"I wanted to come out today with a chance to win the tournament and build for next week," said Stewart, who won the Shell Houston Open April 30 for his ninth tour victory.

He has that chance, thanks to Love's slight falter and his own strong round.

Pavin considered the first of his nine birdies, on the third hole, "an omen." It triggered his 8-under-par 63 that tied the course record that was matched the day before by Love.

The record is shared by Ted Schulz (1991) and David Toms (1992).

"I had a very difficult chip, so I just wanted to get it close to the pin," said Pavin, who captured the Nissan Open in February for his 12th tour victory. "The ball was in a hollow, up a slope to the green. I had to hit a low shot into the hill and let it roll to the hole. It's tough to judge the distance on a shot like that.

"It was an omen. Once in a while, you feel things going your way, a right bounce. There's no rhyme or reason for it. When the chip went in, it was great for the confidence."


A holed chip-in unleashed a torrent of birdies -- four more on the front nine of the course and four on the back side.

For Billy Andrade, who shot a 65 for a 6-under 207, the round stirred memories of 1991. He won the Kemper that year, then captured the Buick Open the next week, giving him two straight going into the U.S. Open.

"I was so spent mentally that I couldn't focus in the Open," Andrade said, recalling that he missed the cut.

Those two wins are the only ones in his eight years on the tour. His best finish this year is a tie for seventh in the Bell South Classic early last month.

A bogey on the 12th hole "got me fired up," Andrade recalled. He birdied the next five holes.

"I became focused after that bogey on 12," he said. "I was so far back, I knew I had to make birdies. When I was on 17, I looked at the leader board and saw that Davis was 11-under.


"I had started my round at 9:45 and it occurred to me that Davis was probably still sleeping -- and that I might be back in 25th place when the day ends."

It's not that bad. He's tied for 13th at 207 with five others.


The leader . . .

Davis Love III 68-63-71202

. . . and selected followers Payne Stewart 69-69-65203


Corey Pavin 73-68-63204

Lee Janzen 68-69-68205

Mark O'Meara 66-70-69205

Greg Norman 72-66-69207

Larry Mize 67-70-70207

Vijay Singh 65-71-71207


Nick Price 70-68-70208

Tom Kite 67-68-73208