Craig Stadler, far from the milling mob of celebrity-watchers that flocked to the host comedian and his show-business friends, rallied for a 69 and took a one-stroke command today following the fourth round of the five-day, 90-hole Bob Hope Classic.
Stadler, who played in something approaching privacy at Tamarisk, had to complete his back nine in 33 to hang on to a lead that was three strokes at the close of Friday's play.
He will take a 267 total, a whopping 21 shots under par, into Sunday's final round of the chase for a $90,000 first prize in this, the first event on the 10-month PGA Tour.
Former PGA champion Lanny Wadkins, attempting to write a close to a year-long nonwinning string, came from four shots back to apply the pressure with a 66 at Indian Wells.
"I'm pleased with it -- but I'd be a lot more pleased if I'd birdied that last hole," Wadkins said after completing one round on each of the four desert courses in 268, 20 under.
Instead of birdie, he made bogey, watching a four-foot putt spin out of the hole for a 6 that, eventually, cost him a share of the lead.
Larry Mize and Ron Streck shared third at 271. Mize had a 68 at Tamarisk and Streck shot 70 at Bermuda Dunes. It was another three strokes back to Chip Beck and former Hope winner Ed Fiori at 274. Each had a fourth-round 69 at La Quinta.
Defending champion John Mahaffey, who opened the tournament with a 66, shot his second straight 72 and was at 279, 12 shots behind Stadler. Mahaffey played his fourth round at Indian Wells where huge crowds gathered, mostly to watch Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and the amateur threesome of Bob Hope, former president Gerald Ford and Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill. Today's total crowd was almost 30,000, giving the tourney 80,000 with one day to go.