Mon, Nov 29, 2004 - Page 20 News List

Skins game heats up amid cool and windy conditions

AP , LA QUINTA, CALIFORNIAREUTERS, SYDNEYAP, JEJU, SOUTH KOREA

Australia's Adam Scott won US$50,000 and two skins on the second hole Saturday, then he, Tiger Woods, Annika Sorenstam and Fred Couples left US$250,000 out on the golf course during the next seven holes of the Skins Game.

That means the first hole today -- when it could be cold and windy at Trilogy Golf Club -- will be worth eight skins and US$300,000. The four will be playing for a total of US$950,000 in the final nine holes.

Sorenstam struggled most of the first eight holes in her second Merrill Lynch Skins Game before making the shot that kept Scott from sweeping the first-day skins.

Scott birdied the par-5, 500-yard ninth, meaning someone had to tie him for the US$250,000 to carry over to today. It wasn't going to be Couples, who drove into the rough and then two-putted for par.

Woods missed a 6-foot birdie putt -- nothing new for him during the round -- before Sorenstam sank a 4-footer to halve the hole.

Woods walked over and hugged Sorenstam, who holed a memorable bunker shot on No. 9 last year to win US$175,000.

Scott's two skins were the fewest won on the first day in the 22-year tournament history. The 24-year-old Skins Game rookie made a 40-foot putt on the par-4, 415-yard second hole to win two skins and US$50,000.

Couples, the defending champion, and Woods, who has a miserable Skins Game record, both had great chances to win skins.

Couples, who's won a record US$2,875,000 and 66 skins in 10 previous appearances, could have won US$200,000 and six skins on the par-3, 234-yard eighth hole. He curled a 15-foot putt just in front of the cup then said, "Come on!"

Woods left his 12-foot putt short on the same hole. "Interesting," he said.

Defending champion Peter Lonard charged home with five late birdies to win the centenary Australian Open by a single shot yesterday.

While most of his rivals melted in the heat on a scorching day in Sydney, Australian Lonard kept his cool to shoot a final round three-under-par 68 for a total of three-under-par 281.

Stuart Appleby had a chance to force a play-off when he birdied the 16th but missed birdie putts on the last two holes to finish a shot behind in outright second.

Overnight leader Rod Pampling fell out of contention with a round of 75 but salvaged a birdie at the last to finish tied for third with Steven Bowditch who closed with a 69.

"There is so much history behind this tournament and this is the one every kid in Australia wants to win," a jubilant Lonard said.

American Arron Oberholser earned US$1 million in the Korea Golf Championship yesterday, closing with a 3-under 69 for a two-stroke victory in the first PGA Tour-sanctioned Challenge Season event in Asia.

Oberholser, winless in two full seasons on the PGA Tour after winning twice on the Nationwide Tour in 2002, had a 4-under 284 total on the Jungmun course. He had five birdies and two bogeys in the final round.

Spain's Miguel Angel Jimenez, the third-round leader at 2 under, shot a 72 to tie for second with South Korea's Kevin Na (70).

Trevor Immelman had a 65, the best round of the day, to finish fourth at 1 under. Tim Petrovic (70) and Sweden's Daniel Chopra (71) followed at 1 over.

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