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National Car Rental Classic
Palm/Magnolia Golf Courses
Lake Buena Vista, Florida
22nd - 25th October 1998

Par 72 Prize Money $2.0 million

Final Round Report

Huston shoots 66 to edge Love at Disney

Associated Press

Lake Buena Vista, Florida 25th October 1998 - John Huston is no stranger to comebacks.

Beset by nagging injuries and poor play, Huston decided to use a one-time exemption to play the PGA Tour this year and responded with a $1 million season.

"It certainly worked out great,'' he said.

Today, it got even better.

With a brilliant display of accuracy and timely putting, Huston rallied from four strokes off the lead and closed with a 6-under-par 66 to win the National Car Rental Golf Classic over Davis Love III at the Walt Disney World Resort.

Huston, who finished at 16-under 272, became the seventh player to win at least twice on the PGA Tour this year. It was his fifth victory in an 11-year career, three of them coming when he trailed going into the final round.

"It's definitely been my best year,'' Huston said. "A lot of it is determination. You feel like you have to prove yourself again. I think that had a lot to do with it.''

Huston hit every green in regulation in the final round -- he missed only seven all week. He was 3-under on the par 5s and clinched his comeback with a 7-iron into 3 feet for a birdie on the 16th hole.

Love, who finished one stroke back, had a chance to catch him with booming drives on the last two holes, but he didn't give himself a decent birdie try with an 8-iron and a 9-iron in his hands. He closed with a 71.

"Anything I say is going to sound like sour grapes to John, but he played well,'' Love said. "I'm happy for him. When he started the year, to do what he did is quite an accomplishment.''

Huston wasn't the only one who felt like a winner.

The final full-field tournament of the year determined the top 125 players on the PGA Tour money list who keep their full-exempt cards for 1999. Larry Rinker, 135th going into the Disney, closed with seven straight pars for a 68 that left him in a tie for 12th. He made $42,000 and moved up to 120th.

"It was a big day for me, a day I needed to perform,'' Rinker said. "I was fortunate I did.''

Blaine McCallister shot a 66 in the final round and got the 125th spot on the money list by $4,204 over P.H. Horgan III.

Huston won $360,000 to put him at $1.4 million, by far his best season in 11 years on tour. He also moved up to 12th in the Presidents Cup standings, giving him a good chance to make the team with a strong showing next week in The Tour Championship.

Love, who opened with a 73, started the final round with a three-stroke lead and had a chance early on to put distance between him and the rest of the field.

Already 1-under for the day, his bunker shot for eagle on the par-5 fourth hole ran over the lip. Then he three-putted from about 8 feet for bogey.

"That probably was a killer,'' Love said. "I probably could have handled No. 4 if I had come back and hit a decent shot somewhere. But it took me all the way to 10 to get another birdie.''

By then, he was locked in a battle with Huston and didn't come up with enough shots at the end to stay with him.

Brent Geiberger had the best round of the day, a 7-under 65 that moved him up to third at 13-under 275. Jesper Parnevik, Tom Purtzer and Rocco Mediate were another stroke back.

Glen Day and Doug Martin, roommates at the University of Oklahoma, started the final round paired with Love and needing to make up three strokes.

Martin was the first to catch him with birdies on the first three holes, but he finished with two straight bogeys for a 72 and was at 277, tied with Tiger Woods, who shot 70. Day shot a 73 to finish at 278.

"I didn't hit very good irons, and that was the difference,'' Love said. "I didn't give myself enough makeable birdie putts.''

That wasn't a problem for Huston.

His iron play was remarkably consistent, and he played the final 33 holes without a bogey.

That's a far cry from a year ago, when Huston became so frustrated with nagging shoulder and wrist injuries -- not to mention his play -- that he took the last four weeks off. Instead of going back to Q-school, Huston decided to take his one-time exemption for being in the top 50 on the career money list.

"Mentally, I was shot,'' he said. "Taking the time off was a big turnaround for me.''

That much was clear in the fourth tournament of the year, when Huston set the PGA Tour scoring record in relation to par -- 28-under 260 to win the United Airlines Hawaiian Open.

Huston still holds the tournament scoring record at Disney, a 26-under 262 when he won in 1992. He didn't have to go that low to win today.

DIVOTS: The Huston family left Disney World with two trophies. He and 10-year-old Jessica won the father-daughter tournament, an alternate-shot format, earlier in the week.

The PGA Tour's millionaire club got two new members today -- Fred Funk and Jesper Parnevik. That makes it 23 players over $1 million this year, with at least two more guaranteed to get there next week after The Tour Championship.

Day's first drive was 45 yards shorter than Love's on the first hole. "I can't hit his ball,'' Day told a volunteer keeping their scores. "Not unless I hit it and throw it.''

Woods tied for seventh, giving him seven straight top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour, and 13 for the year.

Defending champion David Duval, the tour's leading money winner, shot a 75 and tied for 43rd. Duval had a chance to wrap up the money title but only earned $6,090 today. Jim Furyk, who is $650,164 behind in second place and didn't play here this week, has the only chance to catch Duval. However, he needs to win The Tour Championship's $720,000 first prize and Duval must finish last and only earn $64,000.

Andrew Magee, winless since 1994, missed Friday's cut by one stroke with a 1-over 145 but kept his No. 30 spot on the money list -- and the final berth in next week's Tour Championship for the second straight year -- when Stewart Cink stumbled with a 4-over 76. Last season, Magee secured the final spot by a scant $5 over Billy Andrade. Cink had put himself in position to surpass Magee with a 68 on Saturday, moving into a tie for eighth. He had to finish 10th or better to pick up the $52,000 he needed to overtake Magee but ended up tied for 51st at 4-under 284.

Final Round Scores

Third Round

Second Round

First Round

 

 


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