Jacobsen maintains Greater Hartford Open lead

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 26, 2003

CROMWELL, Conn. -- Peter Jacobsen fired a 1-under par 69 Saturday and retained a one-stroke lead through three rounds at the Greater Hartford Open with a chance to earn his first PGA Tour win in eight years.

The 49-year-old tour veteran protected his second-round lead with aggressive play to outlast a field of younger and longer-hitting players.

''The days of playing for par to protect a lead are over,'' he said. ''It's like the Indy 500. You take a pit stop too long, the whole field goes by you.''

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Jacobsen, eligible for the Champions Tour next year, won this event in 1984 when the tournament moved from nearby Wethersfield to the TPC at River Highlands. With a victory Sunday, he would become the final winner of the GHO, which will be called the Buick Championship next year.

Jacobsen's 54-hole total of 199 is 11 under for the tournament. His gallery Saturday included Suzy Whaley, the local teaching pro who played the first two rounds of the GHO before missing the cut.

Whaley, the first woman to qualify for a PGA Tour event since Babe Zaharias in 1945, shot 75 and 78 for a score of 13 over.

Jacobsen's production company handled her publicity the last seven months. Fans continued to call out to her and congratulate her on her performance.

One stroke behind Jacobsen is Chris Riley (63) and Willie Wood (68) at 200. Riley's round of 7 under was the lowest of the day. Kenny Perry (67) and Craig Barlow (68) were two strokes back, tied at 201.

Jacobsen and Jay Haas were the second-round leaders, starting the day at 10 under with a one-stroke lead on the field. But both had trouble hitting the greens early and had to scramble to stay even through four holes. They bogeyed the long No. 5 par 3. Haas never recovered and finished with a 5-over 75.

Jacobsen birdied No. 4 to go back to 10 under. But by then he was in a three-way tie with Wood and tour rookie Darron Stiles.

Wood surged ahead, making birdies on Nos. 11 and 12 to go 13 under. But his aggressive play eventually cost him. A triple bogey on No. 15, when his drive landed in the water at the drivable 296-yard par 4, brought him back to the pack.

''There's a lot of strategy involved in that hole,'' Wood said of No. 15. ''And I'm laying up tomorrow.''

Wood was paired with local favorite J.J. Henry, a Fairfield native and for a while they were the hot twosome of the day. Henry was 9 under with six holes to play when he triple-bogeyed.

''If he and I don't have triples, we're playing in the last group together tomorrow,'' Wood said.