Fair-Weather Watson Turns Back The Clock

SUNDAY, FEB. 1, 1998

Tom Watson, who celebrated his most dramatic win at Pebble Beach, has a chance to make more golf history along the shores of the Pacific Ocean today.

If the weather cooperates, that is.

Watson, who won the 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach by chipping in from the rough on the 17th hole, shot a 5-under 67 Saturday under sunny skies to tie for the lead after two rounds of the AT&T; Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

“We had a beautiful day, and I had a beautiful score on top of it,” Watson said. “The weather turned perfect for us, and my round reflected that.”

Watson rolled in an 18-foot birdie on the 18th hole on the Pebble Beach course for a two-round total of 10-under 134, tying him with Tim Herron for the lead. Herron shot a 66 Saturday at Poppy Hills.

Watson and Herron hold a one-shot lead over Tom Lehman, Phil Mickelson and Jay Haas in the tournament, which also is played on the Spyglass Hill course.

“Man, it turned out nice. I don’t think I’ve ever seen blue skies here,” Herron said. “I’m kind of a mudder. I like this weather.”

Watson was startled at 2 a.m. by gusty winds flapping tarps on a TV tower near his hotel room, and expected the worst when play began in the drizzle Saturday morning.

But, after rain forced organizers to shorten play on Thursday and Friday to nine holes each day, the weather was balmy and bright on Saturday.

Organizers reduced the tournament to a 54-hole event, but getting in a third round may be difficult. The forecast for today is bad, and it’s even worse for Monday if officials try to extend the tournament by a day.

Rain is expected today, with 18-24 mph winds. An even stronger storm system is supposed to bring heavy rain on Monday.

Watson won the Pebble Beach tournament in 1977 and 1978. If he wins this year, the two-decade separation between victories would be a record for the event.

The tournament was washed out after two rounds in 1996, making it the first PGA Tour event that could not be completed since 1949.

Watson had five birdies and no bogeys in his round on Saturday. Herron had seven birdies and one bogey, finishing the round with two straight birdies.

Lehman, who held a one-stroke lead after the first round, had two bogeys in a three-hole span on Poppy Hills to fall out of the lead.

Tiger Woods shot an even-par 72 Saturday and finished the second round at 4-over 148, 14 strokes off the lead.


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