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HOME PROVES PLENTY SWEET AS COOK SIZZLES

Thirty-five years after he first walked the wide, green fairways of Firestone Country Club, hurrying to keep up with his father's long strides, John Cook realized Saturday that he was back home.

Supported by a huge gallery that shouted encouragement and gained in size and volume with every birdie, Cook made a run at 59 -- the lowest score ever recorded in a PGA Tour event -- before settling for an 8-under-par 62 during the third round of the NEC World Series of Golf.

Cook's big climb -- he was tied for 10th and five shots off the lead starting the round -- left him a shot behind David Duval, who chipped in from 50 feet on the 17th hole to carry a one-shot lead over Cook into into today's final round (4 p.m., Ch. 4).

"It was a special day, it really was," an emotional Cook said. "I really wasn't aware of the galleries until 17. The crowd was pretty cool. I guess they knew. When I hit it in there about 6 feet, they knew what was going on. That was a great moment."

Cook grew up in Akron where his father, Jim, was an assistant football coach at the University of Akron. The family moved to California when John was 10.

Around the greens

In Concord, Mass., defending champion Hale Irwin tied the course record with an 8-under-par 64 and moved into a tie for the 36-hole lead of the BankBoston Classic with Joe Inman.

Irwin and Inman, who shot a 66, were at 11-under 134, one shot ahead of 60-year-old Al Geiberger, who shot a second straight 67 to win the 36-hole Mastercard Champions competition for players 60 and over.

Five players were tied at 136: Allen Doyle, who had a 66, David Graham, 68, Ed Dougherty, 69, Gibby Gilbert, 69, and Frank Conner, 71 going into today's final round (2:30 p.m., ESPN).

Payne Stewart shot a 6-under-par 65 and took a one-stroke lead over Brandel Chamblee after three rounds of the $2 million Greater Vancouver Open in Surrey, British Columbia.

Stewart opened the tournament with a 64 and had a 15-under 198 total. Chamblee, who started the third round tied for the lead with Chris DiMarco, had a 68.

Tammie Green holed out from 126 yards on her final hole and Michelle Redman shot a career-low 9-under-par 63 to join a crowded top of the leader board in the suspended second round of the $700,000 State Farm Rail Classic in Springfield, Ill.

Also tied for the lead at 11-under 133 were Martha Nause, who shot a 66, Vickie Odegard, 68, and Cindy McCurdy, 66. Emilee Klein and Janice Moodie were one shot back after shooting 67s.

In Munich, Germany, England's Russell Claydon fired an 8-under-par 64 and tied Bernhard Langer of Germany for the third-round lead in the BMW Open at 202.

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