Verplank commands HP Classic

Posted: Sunday, May 04, 2003

NEW ORLEANS Scott Verplank shot a 5-under 67 Saturday to remain three strokes ahead of the low-scoring field after the third round of the HP Classic of New Orleans.

Verplank's 195 total put him 21 under through 54 holes nearly matching the course record for 72 holes as English Turn remained defenseless with little wind, fast fairways and soft greens,

Bob Estes shot his third 66 of the tournament and was in second at 18-under 198. He made a late push with birdies on 14, 15, 16.

Brian Gay had a double-bogey on 18 that cost him second place and dropped him into a tie with Kirk Triplett at 17 under.

Michelob Light Open

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. Grace Park shot a 2-under 69 to take a one-stroke lead in the Michelob Light Open, with the tour's top two players and top two rookies all close behind.

Park had a 9-under 204 total, one stroke ahead of Cristie Kerr, who shot a 68. Tour rookies Suzann Pettersen (71) and Lorena Ochoa (72) joined Hee-Won Han (68) three strokes behind Park.

Annika Sorenstam and Se Ri Pak, the LPGA Tour's top two players, were four strokes back along with Patricia Meunier-Lebouc. Pak and Sorenstam, paired together, shot 70s, and Meunier-Lebouc had a 71.

BMW Charity Pro-Am at The Cliffs

TRAVELERS REST, S.C. Jack Nicklaus' charge up the Nationwide Tour's leaderboard was cut short by a faltering putter and a hail storm that halted third-round play in the BMW Charity Pro-Am at The Cliffs.

The 63-year-old Nicklaus one-putted his final 10 greens early Saturday to finish off a second-round 67 and creep within five shots of leader Eric Meeks. But Nicklaus couldn't keep the magic going in the later round, with three bogeys in the five holes he completed before large hail stones postponed play again.

Nicklaus stood seven shots in back of co-leaders Meeks and Tripp Isenhour. Nicklaus was the only family member to make the cut in the first pro tournament where Jack and his four sons Jackie, Steve, Gary and Michael competed.

There was some a bit of good Nicklaus news. The hail-out ended the celebrity pro-am tournament, giving Jack and Steve, the Golden Bear's amateur partner, the team title at 21-under par.

Italian Open

BRESCIA, Italy Seve Ballesteros claimed PGA European Tour officials are waging a war'' against him after being disqualified from the Italian Open.

Ballesteros refused to accept a one-stroke penalty for a second slow-play violation in the third round of the Italian Open, and signed for a 3-over 75 instead of a 76. He was then disqualified.

The 46-year-old Ballesteros, a 48-time winner on the European tour, said he is being targeted by tour officials because he once complained about how the tour was being run.

Ricardo Gonzalez of Argentina shot a 6-under 66 and held a one-stroke lead after three rounds.

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