Jose-Maria Olazabal continued his record-breaking assault on vaunted Firestone Country Club, shooting 3-under-par 67 yesterday for an eight-stroke lead after three rounds of the World Series of Golf.
Olazabal's bogey-free round gave him a 54-hole total of 195 and a commanding advantage going into today's final round.
Only U.S. Open champion Hale Irwin could keep the runaway young Spaniard in sight. Irwin was his playing partner in the third round and will be again today.
"I don't think I've ever been in second place, four in front of the next man and eight behind the leader," said Irwin, who shot a no-bogey 66 for his 203 total. Fred Couples was third at 207 after a 68. Lanny Wadkins and Donnie Hammond had 208s and Chip Beck, at 209, was the only other player under par.
Olazabal birdied three of the first five holes, then made all pars. Irwin was 10 strokes behind before coming within an inch of a hole-in-one with a 5-iron on the 12th. He took one more shot off the lead with a 5-iron to three feet on 17.
The 24-year-old Olazabal, who took charge with a first-round 61, went to 15-under for the tournament. Seeking his first victory in the United States, he is six strokes better than the previous 54-hole record for the course and the event.
"My hat's off to him," said Irwin. " . . . Look at the rest of the field. They're all winners. Look at the scores they're shooting. Then look at Olazabal. That tells you how well he's playing."
Despite his deficit -- the largest previous third-round lead on the American tour this year was three strokes -- Irwin wouldn't concede.
"It's the nature of this game that anything can happen," he said. "However, in this case, I might be the only one with any hope of making something happen. If he shoots 70, I have to shoot 62 to catch him."
Olazabal agreed: "If I play normal golf, it will be very difficult for anyone . . . If I play good golf, nobody will beat me."
U.S. Amateur: Two-time NCAA champion Phil Mickelson and onetime high school teammate Manny Zerman used nearly bogey-free play to win semifinal matches and set up an all-Arizona final.
Mickelson, 20, of Arizona State, and Zerman, 20, of the University of Arizona, will duel in a 36-hole match today at Cherry Hills Country Club in Englewood, Colo.
In the semis, their second matches of the day, Mickelson routed David Eger of Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., 5 and 3, and Zerman eliminated Tom Scherrer of Skaneateles, N.Y., 4 and 2.
In the morning quarterfinals, Mickelson birdied the 17th hole to edge Oklahoma State star Bob May of La Habra, Calif., 1 up. He boomed a 3-wood second shot 269 yards that rolled just over the island green and then chipped close for a 4, while May's second shot found the water. Zerman defeated Mike Sposa of Dillard, Ga., 3 and 2.
Mickelson, a long-hitting left-hander, and Zerman, a South African legally adopted by a California family, have played countless times in high school in San Diego, as members of the same golf club and in college matches.
Mickelson, qualifying medalist in the Amateur, admitted they sometimes play each other for pocket change but doubted that would be the case today. "I think there's enough on the line," he said.
PGA Chattanooga: Peter Persons shot 5-under-par 65 to lead Richard Zokol by three shots, 193 to 196, in the Chattanooga (Tenn.) Classic. Zokol also had a 65 to move to 14-under.
Next, at 198, came Maryland's Fred Funk, with a 66; Dave Eichelberger, Russ Cochran and Bill Kratzert. Kenny Knox set a course record with 61 -- he made the turn in 28 -- and is tied with four others at 11-under at the Valleybrook club.
LPGA: Beth Daniel, the LPGA champion and money leader bidding to make it three wins in her last four tournaments, shot 69 for a 9-under-par 135 and a two-shot lead with one round to go in the Northgate Classic at the Edinburgh USA course in Brooklyn Park, Minn.
Barb Bunkowsky, who shot 65 Friday, took a 75 and fell back several places. Cindy Rarick moved into second place on a 71.
Senior PGA: Don Bies, on his home course, shot his second straight 67 and takes the lead into the final round of the Northwest Classic in Kenmore, Wash. Bies is at 10-under-par 134 at Inglewood CC, to 135 for George Archer, who had a 66 while Bob Brue sagged from a first-round 66 to a 76.