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Golf

Toms holds the lead in the NEC clubhouse

By Associated Press
Published August 21, 2004

AKRON, Ohio - David Toms finished his first round Friday morning with double bogey. By the end of another day cut short by rain at the NEC Invitational, it wasn't the worst thing that could have happened.

Dropping two shots gave him an earlier start for the second round, and Toms finished his 4-under 66 just ahead of a downpour that made Firestone South unplay-able and left Toms as the clubhouse leader.

He was at 5-under 135, although still three shots behind Stewart Cink.

Cink played eight holes in the morning to polish off a 7-under 63. He was at 8 under and facing a 25-foot birdie putt downstream on the 11th hole when play was suspended.

The PGA Tour decided to wait until the first round was completed before issuing new tee times, and only 24 players finished the second round. It shouldn't matter by the end of the weekend. The forecast was for dry, cool weather the final two days.

Rory Sabbatini (through 13 holes), Rod Pampling (12 holes) and Chris DiMarco (12 holes) also were at 5 under, and Zach Johnson was another stroke back through 10 holes.

Tiger Woods looks like he'll hang on to his No. 1 ranking for at least another week - not because he's playing great, but the guys who have a chance to catch him are showing signs of a letdown after a tough week in contention at Whistling Straits.

PGA champion Vijay Singh, who only needed to finish higher than Woods at Firestone to become No. 1 for the first time in his career, twice lipped out 3-foot par putts and was 5 over for the tournament with three holes left.

Ernie Els, who finished one shot out of the PGA playoff, made two double bogeys on the back nine to finish off his first-round 72, and was 6 over par for the second round through 15 holes.

Masters champion Phil Mickelson tied for sixth Sunday to cap a marvelous year in the majors, and he usually plays well at Firestone. But he had 75 on Friday and was at 5-over 145.

"I've been in that position before where you have a mentally grueling week where you're in contention on a hard course, and the next week you almost have a blowout and find it hard to concentrate," Cink said. "I'm sure that's what those guys are having right now, because they're a lot better than 5 over and 8 over par."

PGA TOUR: Mark Calcavecchia briefly took the lead before a double bogey left him one behind leader Roland Thatcher after the first round of the rain-delayed Reno-Tahoe Open in Nevada.

Thatcher, a former Auburn star in his first season on the PGA Tour, birdied his first four holes Thursday en route to 6-under-par 66. His 30 on the front nine tied the record at the $3-million tournament at Montreux Golf and Country Club on the edge of the Sierra Nevada.

Calcavecchia, Scott Simpson, Mark Wiebe, Mark Wilson, Vaughn Taylor and Daniel Chopra finished at 67. Corey Pavin and Rich Beem shot 68.

A rain delay of more than four hours forced half the 132-player field to complete first-round play Friday morning.

LPGA: Despite more rain, Suzann Pettersen shot 4-under 68 for a one-shot lead at the Wendy's Championship for Children in Dublin, Ohio.

More than an inch of rain pounded the Tartan Fields Golf Club throughout the day, suspending play late in the afternoon - as was the case in the first round.

Pettersen, one of 66 players unable to complete the first round Thursday, capped an opening 67 with two pars and a birdie early Friday. She continued playing nearly flawless golf, avoiding a bogey in both rounds, despite the stoppages in play, heavy rains, lightning and thunder.

Defending champion Hee-Won Han and Reilly Rankin were one shot back. Han finished off 66 and followed with 70. Rankin shot 71-65.

CHAMPIONS: Mark Lye matched his best score in Champions Tour competition but his thoughts weren't only on golf.

Lye, who shot 6-under-par 66 at the Greater Hickory Classic in Conover, N.C., was thinking about his wife, Lisa. She was diagnosed with a cancerous salivary gland and is undergoing radiation therapy. Her prognosis is very good, he said.

"I'm thinking of her a lot out there. Sometimes you need a reason to do well, and that's a pretty good reason for me to try to do well . . . don't you think?" said Lye, who has been treated for melanoma twice since 1991.

Lye came out strong with birdies on Nos. 2, 4, 5, 6 and 8 on the way to 5-under-par 31 on the front nine. Birdie at the par-5 14th gave him the advantage over Bobby Wadkins, who had a bogey-free 67.

His was two ahead of Jay Overton, who hit 17 greens in regulation and shot 68.

PGA WEST CENTRAL CHAPTER: Teaching pro Frank Reynolds of the Eagles shot 4-under 67 at the Belleair Pro-Am to win by two strokes over Jim Smith of Missing Links Range and Bill Shriver of Belleview Biltmore. Dunedin Country Club head pro John Falcone eagled the par-5 second hole and Belleair amateur Bob Wayland duplicated the feat of the par-5 fourth.

USGA: Ryan Moore keeps rolling along in the U.S. Amateur, moving into the semifinals with a 3-and-2 victory over Jason Hartwick at Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, N.Y. Already a champion in three prestigious amateur events - NCAA Division I, U.S. Amateur Public Links and the Western Amateur - Moore opposes Jeff Overton in today's semifinals. Overton, a senior at Indiana, advanced with a 2-up win over Andrew Svoboda, the four-time Winged Foot club champion from Stamford, Conn. Chris Nallen of Hackettstown, N.J., beat Dayton Rose of Midwest City, Okla., 6 and 5. Nallen plays Luke List of Ringgold, Ga. List, a sophomore at Vanderbilt, was a 3-and-2 winner over 47-year-old Danny Green, who was the oldest player in the field.

Times correspondent Dave Theall contributed to this report.

[Last modified August 21, 2004, 01:01:16]


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