It's hard to believe that somebody shot 36 under to win the Bob
Hope Chrysler Classic and break Tom Kite's 90-hole scoring
record. It's even harder to believe that that somebody was me. I
used to tell friends that the Hope was the absolute last
tournament I'd ever win. In three previous appearances, I never
sniffed making the cut. Heck, the previous five best rounds of my
career on Tour didn't add up to 36 under. Winning the Hope never,
ever crossed my mind.
I broke several records, but I was aware of only Kite's 35 under,
which he had set in 1993, my rookie year. That first season at
the Hope I shot nine over and missed the cut by a mile. When I
heard Kite's final tally, I thought, What have I gotten into?
I wasn't thinking about Kite's record going into the final round.
I was concerned about blowing my five-shot lead. I didn't sleep
well on Saturday night because I kept envisioning the
Monday-morning headlines: DURANT BALLOONS and GRAPEFRUIT in
throat CAUSE OF DURANT'S DEMISE. Luckily I played well on Sunday
and didn't have to read about a collapse. After draining a
15-footer for birdie at the 16th hole to reach 35 under, I knew I
could win and break the record. I hit a good wedge at 17 to set
up an easy bird, so all I had left was PGA West's 18th, an easy
enough par-5. I hit a solid approach to eight feet. My birdie
putt was a blur. I was wiped out and thinking about not messing
up my scorecard and getting DQ'd, which I had done once before at
a mini-tour event. I missed the putt but didn't make any mistakes
with the card.
I passed up last week's Nissan Open so I could celebrate the
third birthday of my son, Hayes. I wonder if I would have picked
up in L.A. where I had left off at the Hope. My buddies at home
in Pensacola, Fla., don't think so. They say, "Joe, how the heck
did you shoot 36 under? You're not that good."
Joe Durant, 36, is 11th on the 2001 money list with $683,267.
COLOR PHOTO: DARREN CARROLL