Struver poised to lift trophy

 

SVEN STRUVER came out of the pack with a 63 to put one hand on the South African PGA title trophy at the Houghton Golf Club in Johannesburg yesterday. The other hand of the 28 year old German will only touch the trophy today if South Africa's Erne Els cannot manage to pull back at least three shots in seven holes.

That's how many the world number three still had left when lightning and then rain forced the players off the course again yesterday in this rain-dogged tournament. Els, defending the title he won last year, was struggling to equal par while his playing partner, David Feherty, was one over for his round after 11, two behind Els and a distant five behind Struver.

All three had a 6.45 start yesterday morning in order to finish uncompleted second rounds begun on Saturday. Struver finished his last four holes in one over par and stood at five under for the tournament.

Struver began the third and final round with three straight pars, but his round caught fire on the fourth, where he began a sequence of nine [birdies in 11 holes. Three putts on the short 15th proved he was human, but he rolled in another birdie putt on the 16th and finished, nine under for the day, minus 14 for the tournament.

Feherty is probably too far back to challenge Struver's score, after struggling to the turn in one over par 37. His long game looked well oiled, but his putter was not working and he will probably have to make do with a top five finish.

However, after his desperately troubled 1995, merely being in contention will have done him a power of good.

The next best Irishman, Eamonn Darcy, had pulled himself up the field with a second round 67, but the inspiration was gone by the afternoon and he stood at level par, for his round after 13 holes.

Des Smyth was level with Darcy with seven under through 15 holes. After completing a fine 66 in the morning Smyth had five bogies, five pars, four birdies and an eagle and must wonder what will happen next, when he tees it up again this morning.

Jim Furyk tapped in a three-foot birdie putt on the third hole of a sudden death play-off to beat Brad Faxon and win the $1.2 million Hawaiian Open yesterday. Furyk and Faxon finished at 11 under par. Furyk shot a final-round 69 and Faxon a 70.

Faxon forced the play-off with an eagle on the last hole of regulation, sinking a 50-foot putt on the par-five 18th.

The $216,000 victory was the second official win for Furyk in his third season on the tour, and his third win in the last four months. He won the Las Vegas Invitational in October, and the Kapalua International in Hawaii in November.