Campbell hangs onto lead


Published: Sunday, January 22, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 22, 2006 at 12:00 a.m.

PALM DESERT, Calif. - Given a choice, Chad Campbell would prefer to be where he is - in front.

Campbell shot a 5-under 67 on Saturday to hold off Scott Verplank and his 64 and hang onto a one-stroke lead through four rounds of the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic.

Asked if he would rather be coming from behind in the final round, Campbell shook his head no and said, "I'd actually rather have a one-shot lead, to be honest. Then you have a shot to play with."

He grinned and added, "I'd like to have about a 10-shot lead."

Campbell kept up his steady play, with six birdies and a lone bogey at the new Classic Club at Northstar to go to 24-under 264 through four days of the 90-hole tournament.

Verplank, sticking his iron shots close to the pin, crafted his 8-under round at Bermuda Dunes Country Club, one of four courses used for the first four days of the tournament.

"I really didn't ever have to work for a birdie," Verplank said. "I think the longest birdie putt I made was probably 6 feet."

A pro-am for the first 72 holes, the 70 low-scoring pros and ties play the final round at the Classic Club.

Campbell was tied for the lead with David Toms heading into the final round in Hawaii last weekend, but shot a 70 to Tom's winning 65.

Campbell said he wasn't feeling any pressure going into the last day of the Hope.

"I feel like I'm playing well and look forward to having a good round," he said. "A victory would be huge. It's been a while since I won. Bay Hill in 2004 was my last win. I'm ready for tomorrow and hopefully everything will work out."

John Senden was alone in third after a 67 at Bermuda Dunes left him at 20 under. Lurking another two shots back was two-time Hope champion Phil Mickelson.

Mickelson, the winner in 2002 and 2004, shot a 67 at Bermuda Dunes to go to 18 under, six strokes off the pace. Making his season debut in the Hope, Mickelson was tied for fourth with Justin Rose, who had a 66.

Mike Weir, who won the tournament in 2003, was another shot behind after a 66. Still another former Hope champion, 2000 winner Jesper Parnevik, vaulted into contention with a 10-under 62 at the Classic Course and was with Weir in a group at 17 under.

Rory Sabbatini and Jeff Maggert had 64s to join them at 271, along with Olin Browne (66) and John Huston (67).

Campbell birdied four holes on the front nine to make the turn at 32, but a bogey on No. 11 seemed to throw him off stride and he shot a 35 on the back nine. On the 11th, he hit a 6-iron long, then left himself a 15-footer for par and missed it for the bogey, only his second of the tournament.

Verplank, meanwhile, was whittling away at Campbell's lead.

He rolled in five birdie putts on the front nine to make the turn with a 31, then kept it going with birdies on the first two holes on the back side. With Campbell already finished for the day, Verplank sank a 3-foot birdie putt on No. 14 to go to 23 under, then bogeyed No. 17 when he hit into the bunker in front of the green and missed a 15-footer for par.

He got that stroke back when he chipped within a foot of the cup on No. 18.

Verplank is trying to end his own victory drought. He hasn't won since the 2001 Canadian Open.

David Duval shot an 8-under 64 to go to 8 under for the tournament and make his second consecutive cut of the season, one more than he made in all of 2005. But for a 78 on the second day, he would be in contention.

When Mickelson takes time off from golf during the winter, he takes to the slopes. Among his family time this past winter was taking daughters Amanda, 6, and Sophia, 4, skiing in Beaver Creek, Colo. "It was great. We came right after two weeks of snow," he said. "It was perfect." ... There was a 15-minute frost delay at La Quinta Country Club and PGA West before the start of Saturday's play. ... Among those missing the cut, at 7 under, were Davis Love III, who was 2 under, and Sean O'Hair, who was 1 under after a fourth-round 78.

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