Lane the bounty hunter

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The Independent Online

Barry Lane put himself in line for a tilt at one of golf's richest prizes when he reached the 36-hole final of the Andersen Consulting World Championship of golf in Scottsdale, Arizona.

He was pitted against the South African David Frost in the final of the event, with the winner claiming pounds 660,000 and the runner-up pounds 330,000.

The match-play competition, which was launched way back in October 1994, is designed to find an international champion from the world's five leading tours - the Japanese, European, Australasian and United States. PGA tours and the FNB Tour of South Africa.

In a series of qualifiers all over the world, the competitors had to win three matches each in eight-man fields to reach Scottsdale. The four regional events were divided among the United States, Japan, Europe and the "Rest of the World," where Frost became the only top seed to advance.

In Saturday's semi-finals, Frost, who was in imposing form, led from start to finish, while Lane had to put in a powerful finishing burst.

Lane eventually beat Masahiro Kuramoto of Japan 2-up, while Frost made a six-foot birdie putt on the 17th green to beat Mark McCumber of the United States 2 and 1.

Kuramoto and Lane were first out on Saturday, and Kuramoto survived the first crisis when he sank a 25-foot putt to match Lane's bogey on the first hole.

After seven holes, Lane was two down. But Kuramoto, who has won 32 times on the Japanese tour, let Lane back into the match when he bogeyed two par-threes, the seventh and 11th, while Lane made pars at each.

Lane bogeyed the 12th to fall one down again, but he promptly fought back with a birdie. He eventually gained the lead for the first time on the 14th with only his third birdie of the round. Kuramoto ran into further trouble with a double-bogey six on the 15th hole, which put Lane two up. The Japanese fought back with a birdie on the 17th, but on the last hole Lane sank a four-foot birdie putt, while Kuramoto struggled to yet another bogey.

Frost established a lead over McCumber on the very first hole when he sank a seven-foot birdie putt, and jumped to two up on the third when he chipped over a deep gulley, clipped the top of a knoll and still got the ball to stop within three feet of a difficult pin placement for a birdie four. He went further ahead when McCumber bogeyed the fourth hole and went four up after five holes with his third birdie of the round.

McCumber fought back with birdies on two par threes, the seventh and 11th, and a par four on the 303-yard 13th hole. When Frost bogeyed the tricky hole, named "Heaven or Hell," he left the green just one hole ahead.

The margin stayed that way through the 14th, 15th and 16th. But the match was decided on the par-three 17th, - "Devil's Drink" - which demands an all-or-nothing approach to its island green.

McCumber's pitch from the tee stopped about 20 feet from the pin, and his first putt rimmed the cup but stayed out.

Then Frost lined up his putt and sent it straight into the hole.