1998 Buick Invitational - Saturday Notes
Four Players Leading, Fifteen Within Three Shots

Second round play was completed today, followed by an incomplete third tround. When play was halted at 5:23pm due to darkness, four players were tied for the lead at 11-under par: Steve Pate (through 8 holes), Kevin Sutherland (also through 8 holes), Scott Simpson (through 15 holes), and Bob Tway (through 9 holes). The hottest of these four was Simpson, who started on #10 at 4-under, and made 7 birdies quickly creeping up the leaderboard. Sutherland and Tway were 2-under for the day, and Pate was 1-over. The missing former "leader" was El Niño: the weather was nice, with a partly sunny sky and a gentle breeze. Even though they finished the second round playing the ball down, "lift, clean and place" rule was used for the third round. There was still a lot of wet, muddy ground, but the course was very playable.

It was a strange day today at Torrey Pines. From early morning through about Noon it was "cut day", and from 1 o'clock, when third round play started, until 5:23 it was "moving day", make that "moving afternoon". Among those notables missing the cut, which was at 142 (2-under), were David Duval (-1), Lanny Wadkins (E), Justin Leonard (E), Brad Faxon (E), Fred Couples (+4), and Corey Pavin (+6).

There are six players at -10, five at -9, and four at -8. Those making "the move", in addition to Simpson, were Brent Geiberger (-5 for the day, -10 overall), Craig Stadler (-4 today, -9 overall), Tommy Armour III (-4 today, -8 overall), and Mike Standly (-4 today, -7 overall). And one player who is quietly making his way back up is Tiger Woods, who finished with a 66 for his second round (North Course) and is -2 through 12 holes, for a -9 overall and only two shots back. He has to play two more par-5 holes to play tomorrow, before starting his fourth round.

Sunday play will start at 8:15, when the third round will resume. And the fourth round will start 45 minutes later, at 9 o'clock, when third round players will have finished their 10th hole (holes #1 and #10) leaving them open for play to those "early" players ready to start. To fit this schedule, no re-pairing will be done after the completion of the third round. This presents at least one interesting possibility: Scott Simpson could win the tournament finishing on the 9th green. Two par-5's away, from the TV cameras, skyboxes, hospitality tents and bleachers that make the 18th green "theater".

If we add to this cocktail the possibility of showers and the fact that 19 players are within 3 shots of the lead, the scenario looks promising for the thrilling finish.

Third Day Notes

  • Brian Henninger followed his second round front nine 37 with a back nine 29. He birdied 8 of his last 10 holes on the more difficult South Course, after shooting a disappointing 73 on the North Course (first round).

  • Dave Stockton Jr birdied his last three holes (second round) to make the cut right on the button.

  • Scott Simpson's caddy this week is San Diego Chargers quarterback, Stan Humphries.

  • Scott Simpson needs to birdie two of his last three holes to tie the course record set by Tommy Nakajima in 1984, and then tied by Tom Watson in 1992. Of course Scott is playing "lift, clean and place", or "winter rules", unlike Nakajima and Watson. Simpson has yet to play the tough par-4 7th, the birdieable par-3 8th, and the very birdieable par-5 9th.

  • John Walter, the Course Operations Manager, and his crew of 26 were aided by four Balboa Park G.C. maintenance personnel and ten volunteers. All 41 of them made 36 holes playable by 8 o'clock this morning, when second round play was scheduled to resume. "Working the bunkers was the biggest challenge", said Walter. They started with the softer greens, and they had to wait until sunrise to mow, to avoid cutting through TV power cables and other equipment. All in all, a tremendous task very well done ... "Anything Is Possible".

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