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Less means more for Andrade at Doral

Even golfers who make their living playing the game, guys who should know, often believe that bigger is better. They strive to see their golf ball go farther. They swing as hard as they can. They do anything to add a few yards.

And inevitably, as the ball soars, so, too, do their scores.

Billy Andrade discovered that the hard way last year. Not known for his driving prowess, the PGA Tour pro sought to add a little punch to his game. The result was seven consecutive missed cuts in 1993.

"I was trying to swing out of my shoes to get the ball out there, and it was getting me in a lot of trouble," he said.

Andrade altered his strategy, and he often finds himself hitting first from the fairway. Although he consistently was behind John Huston on Saturday off the tee, he had more success, shooting 6-under-par 66 to take the lead heading into today's final round of the Doral-Ryder Open.

"I started looking at guys like Tom Kite and Corey Pavin," said Andrade, who is two strokes ahead of second-round leader Larry Nelson. "Kite hits it nowhere. Corey Pavin is one of the best players out here and he hits it shorter than I do. I thought, "Maybe there is something to keeping it in play. '

"There is something to course management. Last summer was as tough as it gets. When I started swinging too hard at it, I got in a lot of trouble. And playing with some of the better players and struggling, I didn't even want to be out there."

Andrade, whose drives are averaging a short (for PGA Tour standards) 238 yards off the tee, was feeling that way Saturday. With a new putting stroke he borrowed from Fuzzy Zoeller this week, he made putts from all over Doral's "Blue Monster" course. Andrade had an eagle, five birdies and only one bogey to finish 54 holes at 204, 12 under par.

It was bad luck that resulted in Andrade's bogey. His third shot to the par-5 eighth hole hit the flag stick, but caromed off the green.

Nelson, who followed Friday's 64 with 69, stood alone at 206, 10 under par. Five players _ Huston, Jim Thorpe, Brad Bryant, Lennie Clements and D.A. Weibring _ were tied at 208.

Huston of Tarpon Springs felt he let an opportunity slip away. Saturday's conditions were ideal for scoring, and he only could manage 70. "I'm a little disappointed," he said. "From where I drove it, I basically shot over par. I never hit the ball close from the fairway. And I wasn't making any long putts, so I wasn't making up for my lack of good iron play."

Andrade, 30, has two PGA Tour victories in his seven-year career, and they came in consecutive weeks in 1991 at the Kemper Open and Buick Classic. But he went through a lull last year, missing those seven straight cuts while struggling to regain his confidence. At the International, he bogeyed seven of the last 10 holes to miss the cut by one shot.

"That was as low as it got," Andrade said. "I gagged, choked, couldn't breathe. And that was just to make the cut. I think I felt more pressure trying to make the cut than I did trying to win a tournament. And you're feeling it because you know you're not playing well."

Nelson has not been in position to do that much lately. His last victory on the PGA Tour came in 1988, and he had no top-10 finishes last year.

"It's kind of like riding a bicycle," said Nelson, 46, who did not take up golf until age 21, after returning from Vietnam. Yet he has won three major championships, more than all but five active players: Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Nick Faldo, Seve Ballesteros and Raymond Floyd.

"There are feelings in there that you really like. That's the reason why you play competitive golf. You kind of remember how to play, and it's like it is new again. You get some confidence, and that helps you, even if your mechanics are not as good as they were 20 years ago."

Nelson will be paired in the final twosome today with Andrade.

"I can't wait," Andrade said. "I'm looking forward to it.

Even when it means having to hit first.