Sun emerges, rookie surges
Prugh is first rookie to lead round since '02
Associated Press
Sunday, January 24, 2010

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 Saturday, shooting 7-under-par 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.

Whatever the magic formula, Prugh is the first rookie to lead a round at the event since John Senden took the second-round lead in the 2002 tournament eventually won by Phil Mickelson.

"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 consecutive 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.

Amateurs, celebrities and pros alike were thrilled to see fewer fairway marshes and more sturdy greens, but two unheralded rookies made the biggest splashes by crowding around Watson, who's also seeking his first PGA Tour victory.

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 Saturday before stringing together four birdies on the back nine.

HOWELL CLIMBS

- Augusta native Charles Howell shot 66 on the La Quinta Course and is tied for 15th overall at 13-under-par 203.

- Former Louisville, Ga., resident Brian Gay shot 70 on the SilverRock Course and fell on the leaderboard at 10-under.

- Evans resident Vaughn Taylor shot 73 on the La Quinta Course and is tied with Gay at 10-under.

- Swainsboro, Ga., resident Blake Adams shot 69 on the SilverRock Course and is 5-under par.

-- From staff reports

From the Sunday, January 24, 2010 edition of the Augusta Chronicle
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