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Improved after dismal 2003, Gibson still sees room to grow


Fred Gibson, a Washington native and former Middle Atlantic PGA assistant professional who carved out an area career as a solid player, is coming back from his worst Champions Tour season in six years.

For the man who has won once on the tour and collected more than $2 million, it still isn't where he wants it.

"I'm happy with my game, but not with the results," Gibson said yesterday, taking a break from some practice at Hayfields Country Club. "What looks like a good shot ends up under the lip [of a bunker], or runs behind a tree. That can turn into a strange number, and there haven't been enough birdies to offset that."

Gibson, who earned exempt status after tying for sixth place in last fall's qualifying school following a woeful 2003 campaign ($34,644 in earnings), ranks 53rd on the money list with $281,964.

Like father, like son

Jose Maria Canizares, a Champions Tour fixture since 1998, jumped past several players with a third-place finish at the SAS Championship in Cary, N.C., on Sunday, closing with a 6-under-par 66.

Early Monday afternoon, he and his wife were at Caves Valley Golf Club, watching their son, Alejandro, compete for Arizona State in the Ping/Golfweek Preview collegiate tournament.

Alejandro Canizares shot a final-round 69, his lowest score of the event. He finished 9-over par and tied for 27th.

"I think his confidence is his biggest thing. He's been playing well," Jose Maria Canizares said of his son.

The elder Canizares has been playing well, too, and his most recent finish enabled him to improve five places to No. 22 on the money list. The effort made his top-30 (exempt) position a little more secure.

He has earned an exemption in five of the past six years, missing only in 2002, when he was 33rd. He qualified for this season with a 30th-place finish a year ago.

Chasing Stadler

Craig Stadler, winner of five events this season, including the past three, is not in this field. But his four closest pursuers in the race for the Charles Schwab Cup are here, poised for a late stretch run.

With four events remaining, Stadler has 3,133 points, followed by Hale Irwin (2,852), Tom Kite (2,101), Peter Jacobsen (1,837), and Mark James (1,756).

The Cup is a season-long competition that awards points to the top 10 finishers each week. This week, with a first-place purse of $240,000, the winner will collect 240 points. The year-end leader will receive a $1 million annuity, with additional cash awarded to the next four places.

Et cetera

The sponsor's exemptions went to Mark Lye, Eduardo Romero, Tom McKnight, Forrest Fezler and Rick Rhoden ... Four players in the field, who are separated by about $175,000 on the money list, are the leaders in the race for Rookie of the Year - Jacobsen, Mark James, Jerry Pate and Mark McNulty ... Tournament officials are offering free admission, today through Sunday, for all military personnel (active, retired or reserve), fire personnel, police and emergency medical technicians with valid identification. ... The event will be televised by The Golf Channel, airing Friday from 12:30 p.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday from 2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday on tape delay from 8 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.

At a glance

What: Champions Tour Constellation Energy Classic

Site: Hayfields Country Club, Hunt Valley

When: Friday-Sunday

2003 winner: Larry Nelson

Directions: Take Baltimore Beltway to Interstate 83 north. Take Exit 20A for Shawan Road East and follow signs to parking areas.

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