Gamez Hayes Share John Deere Lead


Robert Gamez broke onto the PGA Tour scene with fanfare seldom seen. His flame then fanned out just as quickly.
Sparks are flying this week at the John Deere Classic, and Gamez is in position to relight his torch.
Gamez shot 5-under-par 66 in the third round at the TPC at John Deere to tie overnight co-leader J.P. Hayes (66) for the 54-hole lead, at 18-under-par 195.
Mike Heinen is three back after birdieing the last to shoot 66.
Inclement weather delayed the start of play Saturday in Silvis, Ill., by nearly 4 hours. As a result, officials employed threesomes and split tees.
Fred Funk, who started the day tied with Hayes at the top, fell quickly down the leaderboard. After playing the first 36 holes in bogey-free fashion, he dropped three shots over his first five holes in round three.
While Funk turned in 3-over 38, Hayes did so in even par. Friday, Hayes birdied five of his first seven holes en route to a course-record 61. Saturday, he reeled off nine straight pars on the front side.
Still, he maintained his lead at 14-under, and wasnt caught until Heinen, who led after an opening 63, birdied the par-5 10th.
Gamez, who played in the final group with Hayes and Funk, also birdied No. 10 to make it a three-way tie for the lead. The 33-year-old then stood alone with a second successive birdie at 11.
Heinen and Hayes each made their ways to 15-under, but Gamez stayed a step ahead with a birdie at 14. Heinen then dropped a shot further back with a bogey at the par-5 17th, while Hayes birdied 16 to tie Gamez at minus-16.
Both leaders birdied 17 and 18 to enter the final round deadlocked.
Gamez hasnt won on tour in 12 years. He captured his first title in the Tucson Open, and then holed a 7-iron from 176 yards for an eagle-2 on the 72nd hole to win the Bay Hill Invitational. His exploits led to the 1990 Rookie of the Year. However, what appeared to be a promising start to his professional career turned into his peak season.
Gamez lingered in between No. 44 and No. 89 on the money list from 1991 to 97. Then the bottom fell out. He dropped to 195th in earnings, and hasnt since been inside the top 125.
This year, though, he has three top-10 finishes in 11 starts, and is now on course to secure his 2002 tour playing privilege.
Hayes is also trying to snap a winless drought that dates back to the 1998 Buick Classic.
Full-field scores from the John Deere Classic