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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, January 24, 2010

Rookie Prugh tops Hope Classic


Associated Press

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

PGA Tour rookie Alex Prugh got up and down for a par at the par-4 16th hole en route to a third-round 65 in the Bob Hope Classic.

MATT YORK | Associated Press

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LA QUINTA, Calif. Alex Prugh's last name rhymes with "Who?"

That's a good question and a good young player leading the Bob Hope Classic.

The 25-year-old PGA Tour rookie surged ahead when the sun finally came out yesterday, shooting a 7-under 65 on the tough La Quinta course to take a one-stroke lead over Bubba Watson and fellow tour rookie Martin Flores.

With his third straight remarkably consistent round in the five-round, four-course tournament, Prugh pulled ahead at 21-under 195. Yet if the former University of Washington star had any strong feelings after his second straight bogey-free round, Prugh wasn't letting on.

"I was almost bored with myself a little bit," said Prugh, who trailed Watson by two strokes entering the third round. "It's not a bad thing. I was hitting the driver very well, and I kept on hitting fairway after fairway. ... Boring rounds are actually fine with me."

Prugh thinks the pro-am format keeps him away from any mental dangers that might otherwise arise from leading a PGA Tour tournament after three rounds. Perhaps helping amateurs with their game prevents him from overthinking his own.

"I'm just trying to entertain my amateur partners as well as I can, and hopefully they get their money's worth when they're out here," Prugh said.

Flores was every bit as impressive as Prugh, shooting the second straight 65 of his bogey-free tournament to pull into a tie with second-round leader Watson (68), who rallied after a slow start on the Arnold Palmer Private course.

Joe Ogilvie (68) was four strokes back at 17 under. Chad Collins (69), Tim Clark (67) and Bill Haas (66) were 16 under, and Mike Weir (67) was 15 under.

After rain washed out play Thursday and threatened Friday, the players finally reveled in perfect Palm Springs scoring weather.

The long-hitting Watson was in prime position to pull away a bit after doing well on the two tougher courses during the rainy first two days, but he was 1 over after eight holes on the Palmer course yesterday before stringing together four birdies on the back nine.

"I just played bad," said Watson, the tour's second-longest driver last year. "The 68 was getting a lot out of my round today, so I'm not mad at a 68. It's just (that) I wanted to play better. My caddie kept yelling at me, trying to get me to pay attention and stay focused. I just hung in there."

After finishing 72nd last week at the Sony Open, Prugh played as well as a Pacific Northwest native might be expected to do on the Hope Classic's two rainy days. He shot an opening-round 64 on the easier Nicklaus Private course at PGA West, followed by a steady 66 on Friday at the Palmer course.

ELSEWHERE

Abu Dhabi Championship: Martin Kaymer fired a third-straight 5-under 67 yesterday for a one-stroke lead at the Abu Dhabi Championship in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

Kaymer was at 15-under 201 after the third round of the European Tour event at the 7,510-yard Abu Dhabi Golf Club course, where the German won the title in 2008 and tied for second last year.

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland and Ian Poulter of England were tied for second at 202 after both also shot 67s.

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