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Hnatiuk holds spot in PGA's trenches

What's a mere $3,852 to a PGA Tour player these days?

For Glen Hnatiuk, try the difference between full-time employment and going back to qualifying school.

The Brooksville resident survived the top-125 chase again by finishing in a tie for 49th Sunday at the Chrysler Championship. Only those players in the top 125 of the money list after the Chrysler, the last full-field event of the season, are fully exempt for the 2004.

Hnatiuk, 38, began last week 130th on the money list but moved into 124th despite shooting 4-over 288 for the tournament, including 74 in the final round.

"It might be the worst time I've ever had playing golf. It was a totally different feeling today," Hnatiuk said. "There was a lot more on the line. All week I'd been hitting the ball really nice, in control of my emotions. Today just kind of got a hold of me."

Hnatiuk has survived the bubble three straight years. In 2001 he finished 119th on the money list and a year ago he was 120th.

"It's a character-builder or it will send me to the rubber room, one of the two," said Hnatiuk, who earned $11,976 for the tournament and $488,429 for the season. "I was just glad that I had the chance to finish inside the top 125."

Esteban Toledo, who missed the Chrysler cut, is the magic No. 125 with $487,495. Per-Ulrik Johansson and Dicky Pride, the next two on the list, also missed the cut.

The most agonizing story of the day among the grinders was Olin Browne's. He is 130th on the money list ($479,592) after finishing in a tie for 53rd. He shot 75 Sunday, his worst round of the tournament.

Had he maintained the 1-over position he began the final round with, Browne would have made it.

"I had an opportunity to get something done today and I couldn't pull it off," Browne said. "I got off to a rough start and couldn't get comfortable all day long. It's unfortunate, but I've got another opportunity in another month (at Q-School) and that's the way I've got to deal with it."

France's Thomas Levet, who tied for sixth, nearly pulled off a giant leap into fully-exempt territory. He came in 153rd on the money list but jumped 20 spots with $160,800 at the Chrysler.

"It doesn't matter, I was very far away and I'm really happy with my week," Levet said. "I don't have as much pressure as the guys playing only here; I'll get my card in Europe. I had a job next year anyway."

AUGUSTA BOUND: The tears started flowing from Julie Petrovic after her husband's final round, and soon Tim barely could hold back.

By finishing in a tie for fourth, the Dade City resident moved into 36th on the money list, earning a trip to next year's Masters.

"I get to play the home course of my favorite player, Bobby Jones," Petrovic said.

The top 40 players on the money list get Masters invitations. Clearwater's John Huston, 40th coming into the tournament, will have to qualify after falling to 42nd with a tie for 34th at the Westin Innisbrook Resort.

Jeff Sluman moved into 40th after tying for 13th.

COMING BACK: Only six non-major tournaments this year had as good or better a winning score in relation to par than Retief Goosen's 12 under, and such difficult conditions often attract the best players.

Ernie Els, the third-ranked player in the world, said he'll be back on the Copperhead course next year.

"I had a great time. This is the best course I've played in Florida," said Els, who finished in a tie for 34th at 1-over par.

Davis Love said he will return. The fourth-ranked player shot the round of the day Sunday, 66, to move into a tie for sixth at 5 under.

"The golf course has always been great, it's always been underrated," Love said. "It's a very, very good test of golf."

GOOD START: Tournament director Gerald Goodman estimated the attendance at 12,000-15,000 both Saturday and Sunday.

"We didn't do bad on our first year," said Goodman of the Chrysler, which was known as the Tampa Bay Classic from 2000-02. " We look forward to the challenge next year to do more."

ETC.: The 1,145 birdies by the players for the tournament's Birdies for Charity program raised $361,000 in pledges. Combined with the $100,000 Bright House Networks Bonus Pool, the program's charitable contributions total $461,000. A distinct non-golf roar went up near the 18th green when the Bucs tied the Saints at 14. A television screen mounted on a truck was provided for patrons. Moments later a distinct groan was heard when the Saints converted the winning field goal.

_ JOHN SCHWARB

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