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Goosen, Izawa on top of world of players at NEC

Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published August 23, 2002

SAMMAMISH, Wash. -- This World Golf Championship certainly lived up its name Thursday, as Retief Goosen of South Africa and Toshi Izawa of Japan each shot 6-under 65 to share the lead in the NEC Invitational.

Davis Love III, Phil Mickelson and Darren Clarke (Northern Ireland) were at 66, and five players from five other countries were right in the mix on a sunny, picturesque afternoon at Sahalee Country Club.

Tiger Woods found the tree-lined course east of Seattle a little tighter and more difficult to navigate than Firestone in Ohio, where he won the past three NEC Invitationals.

Still, Woods overcame double bogey on No. 17 to post 3-under 68 in his bid to become the first since Walter Hagen at the PGA Championship (1924-27) to win the same tournament four years in a row.

The double bogey came from a 6-iron that came up short and went into a pond.

Despite the $5-million purse and a world-class field of 78 players, the tournament had the feel of a holiday. The crowds were not quite as large or boisterous as the PGA Championship last weekend, and the pressure wasn't as great.

Better yet for Goosen and Izawa, they managed to shake off their shabby weekend at Hazeltine (79-75 for Goosen, 75-78 for Izawa).

"It was very relaxing, and I played a practice round and started shooting the ball good," Izawa said.

Goosen's round was all about putting.

"I've worked quite hard on my putting the last couple of days, trying to work something out, and today I seemed to stroke it a lot better," he said. "There were a lot of birdie chances out there."

RENO-TAHOE OPEN: Charles Howell birdied three of his first four holes and shot 7-under 65 for a one-stroke lead after the first round of the PGA Tour event in Nevada.

John Rollins, J.L. Lewis and Tom Pernice Jr. shot 66 on the 7,472-yard Montreux Golf & Country Club course. Ben Crane, Luke Donald, Steve Allan, Eduardo Herrera, Jonathan Kaye and Boo Weekley were at 67.

Armed with a new driver and Jose Maria Olazabal's former caddie, Howell shot 5-under 31 on the front of the mountain course on the edge of the Sierra. The 23-year-old said he had some difficulty reading the undulating greens but managed seven birdies in his bogey-free round.

BETSY KING CLASSIC: Jill McGill and Danielle Ammaccapane shot 6-under 66 and shared the lead after the first round of the LPGA event at Kutztown, Pa.

McGill, who made an eagle and six birdies, was 7 under heading to the final hole but missed a 6-foot par putt to drop into the tie.

McGill's eagle 2 came on her 14th hole when she holed a pitching wedge from 110 yards. Ammaccapane, who didn't have a bogey, looks to end a four-year drought with her eighth victory.

Michelle McGann, Carri Wood, Wendy Doolan and Michelle Ellis shot 67. Nancy Scranton of Tampa shot 69, and leading rookie money-winner Beth Bauer of Tampa shot 72.

U.S. AMATEUR: Medalist Bill Haas earned a berth in the quarterfinals with a 2-and-1 victory over D.J. Trahan, the NCAA player of the year, at Bloomfield Hills, Mich.

Next up for Haas, son of PGA Tour pro Jay Haas, is John Klauk, a senior at Texas who eliminated Kevin Stadler, son of tour pro Craig Stadler, in the round of 16 at Oakland Hills.

Haas, a junior at Wake Forest, was three holes down with eight to play against Trahan, a senior at Clemson. Haas drew even at No. 15 and took a 1-up lead when he made 4 and Trahan made bogey on the 406-yard 16th.

SCOTTISH PGA: Richard Green birdied his last three holes for 7-under 65 and a one-stroke lead over Frederik Andersson in the European PGA Tour event at Gleneagles, Scotland.

PGA SECTION: Charles Meade of Clearwater closed with birdies on Nos. 17 and 18 for his second 5-under 67 in a row to win the 23rd annual North Florida Championship at Orange County National Golf Club in Kissimmee. Meade, a teacher at Ben Sutton Golf School in Sun City Center, finished two strokes ahead of two others on the Crooked Cat course for his first NFPGA title and $3,200.

COUNTY GOLF ASSOCIATION: Largo's Jeff Spath beat Danny Herrington, also of Largo, 4 and 3 in a semifinal match of the association's championship at Seminole Lake Country Club. John King of Tampa beat Dave Derrick of Palm Harbor 1-up in the other semifinal.

-- Times correspondent Dave Theall contributed to this report.

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