An eagle on the 18th hole yesterday gave Rory Sabbatini a one-stroke lead going into the final round of the Bob Hope Classic, but it didn't make him the clear-cut favorite to win what figures to be another shootout in the desert.
Never mind that Sabbatini, who had an 8-under 64 on the pitch-and-putt known as Indian Wells, has never won on the PGA Tour before. Or that defending champion David Duval, who closed with a 59 last year, is only two strokes behind.
With amateurs such as John Elway and Bill Murray finally going home, Sabbatini has to worry about any of the 21 players who are within five strokes of the lead.
Sabbatini, at 23-under 264, sounded like he was up to the task.
"It's not like I'm sitting there wondering, 'I've had four good days--when am I going to have a bad day?' I'm ready to go out there and shoot even lower tomorrow," the 23-year-old South African said.
Matt Gogel, a six-time winner on the Nike Tour who finally made it to the big leagues this year, had a 3-under 68 at Bermuda Dunes and was at 265.
Another stroke back was Mr. 59, who doesn't believe he has to match history to cash the $540,000 first-place check today.
"I can promise you, if I shoot 59 I'll win," Duval cracked.
Also tied with Duval at 266 were Rich Beem, Stephen Ames and Jesper Parnevik. Frank Lickliter had the best score of the day and of his career--a 10-under 62 at Indian Wells--and was in the group at 267.
The cut was 276, the lowest ever in a PGA Tour event.
One player who didn't make it was Casey Martin, although his debut as the first PGA Tour member in a cart ended on a memorable note.
Needing a birdie on his final hole at La Quinta to make the cut, Martin's 3-wood rolled to the edge of the water. He took off his socks and shoes--even the stocking that helps control the swelling in his right leg--and stood in the water.
Martin thought otherwise and made double bogey for a 69.
"I just blew it on that hole," Martin said. "I'm bummed. Four days of grinding and playing well, and I get nothing for it. . . . That's life. That's golf."
LPGA: Rookie Jen Hanna shot a 5-under-par 67 to take a two-stroke lead after the third round of the Memorial of Naples in Florida.
Hanna, 13th on the SBC Futures Tour money list last year, birdied three of the final four holes for a 13-under 203 total on the Club at the Strand. She is attempting to become the first player to win in her first event since Beverly Hanson in 1951.
"I told my caddie that I felt like I was in a bubble out there because nothing really bothered me," Hanna, 23, said.
SENIORS: In Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, Australia's Graham Marsh made four putts longer than 50 feet en route to a 5-under-par 67 and a two-stroke lead over Hale Irwin, Lee Trevino and Dana Quigley in the MasterCard Championship.