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Sponsor-exempt Jurgensen in position for DGGC victory

July 19, 1997

MADISON, Miss. (AP) _ Steve Jurgensen, in the Deposit Guaranty Golf Classic on a sponsor’s exemption, shot a 3-under-par 69 Saturday to build a two-stroke lead going into the final round of the tournament.

Jurgensen pushed his three-day total to 14-under 202 by chipping within six feet for a birdie on the 532-yard 18th hole. That followed a string of eight straight pars after he finished the front nine with a bogey-5.

``I’m lucky to be leading. I don’t see why people behind me didn’t pass me,″ said Jurgensen, whose only top-10 finish on the PGA Tour was in last year’s Deposit Guaranty.

Among four players two strokes back was Don Pooley, who shared the lead with Jurgensen after two rounds. Pooley, whose last victory on tour was the 1987 Memorial, struggled with the putter Saturday and finished with a 71.

Also at 12-under were Billy Ray Brown, Steve Lowery and Brian Claar, who was paired with Jurgensen for Sunday’s final round at the 7,157-yard Annadnale Golf Club.

Despite a shaky start, Jurgensen was 2-under after five holes Saturday.

His opening drive went well right into deep rough, but Jurgenson recovered with a pitching wedge to the center of the green and a two-putt par. A routine par at the 213-yard No. 2 hole was followed by a drive into a fairway bunker.

Jurgensen’s second shot at the 406-yard third hole missed the green left, but his short pitch fell for birdie. A birdie followed at the 522-yard fifth.

``That got the day going. I seemed to get somewhat in the rhythm of the first two days,″ said Jurgensen, who had rounds of 66 and 67 the first two days.

Pooley missed birdie chances on his first three holes before finally sinking a 15-footer on the fourth hole and a 6-footer on No. 6. But he played the back nine 2-over, including a three-putt bogey at the 414-yard 13th.

``I hit the ball well ... drove it in every fairway and hit good iron shots,″ Pooley said. ``I am disappointed with my score. I missed more putts than I have and made a couple of dumb bogeys.

``I was hoping to get out in front of the field, put a little distance there. I couldn’t capitalize on all of my chances,″ Pooley said. ``The leaders didn’t run away from the pack, and let a lot of people into this tournament today.″

Twenty-five players were within five strokes of the lead.

Brown, whose best finish this year was 22nd in the Colonial, shot his third round in the 60s Saturday, a 69 in which he was 3-under on the front nine and even on the back.

First-round co-leader Mike Brisky, who followed an opening 64 with a 74, got back in the hunt at 11-under with a 67 that included four birdies in the last six holes. Craig Kanada had his second straight over-par round, at 2-over 74.

Jurgensen, relegated to non-exempt status on the Nike Tour after failing to maintain his PGA Tour card last year, is intent not only on the $180,000 first prize but the two-year PGA Tour exemption that goes to the winner.

``It will probably creep into my mind. But once you get over that first shot, reality hits,″ Jurgensen said. ``It is easy to get into a round, whether it’s good or bad. You are then forced to concentrate on one shot at a time.″

Jurgensen said Saturday that he hadn’t had the opportunity to personally thank DGGC executive director Robert Morgan for the sponsor’s exemption. Jurgensen wrote Morgan earlier this year requesting a spot in this year’s tournament.

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