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Golf briefs

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 20, 2001


Gustafson is 2-up at Memorial of Naples

NAPLES, Fla. -- Sophie Gustafson shot a career-best 8-under-par 64 in windy conditions Friday to take a two-stroke lead in the LPGA Memorial of Naples.

Gustafson, a two-time winner last year, totaled 12-under 132, ahead of first-round leader Mi Hyun Kim, who shot 70 to fall to second.

"It felt pretty comfortable for me," Gustafson said. "I like playing in the wind. It's more fun. You can create different shots. Playing in the wind keeps me more focused."

Brandie Burton was four strokes back after 69, and Dottie Pepper (69), 1999 champion Meg Mallon (69), Pat Hurst (69), Heather Bowie (70), Jean Bartholomew (70) and Laura Diaz (70) followed at 137.

"That looked like Jekyll and Hyde compared to (Thursday)," Pepper said of the wind that gusted to 25 mph.

Gustafson had an eagle and six birdies during an 11-hole stretch. She reached 11 under with eagle on the par-5 11th and moved to 12 under with birdie on No. 13. Four of her six birdie putts were within 10 feet.

Kim, who opened with 64, double bogied the first hole (which started her back nine) after hitting a tree with her tee shot.

Hall of Famer Nancy Lopez, playing in her first event of the year, shot her second straight 75 to miss the cut by six shots.

SONY OPEN: The outrageously long backswing and the brisk walk down the fairway puffing on a cigarette was vintage John Daly. Nothing else about him looked familiar in Thursday's first round, least of all his score.

When his 6-foot birdie putt dropped, Daly had 6-under 64 in Honolulu, his lowest score in three years, and a share of the lead for the first time since the 1997 PGA Championship.

"I'm a little shocked myself," Daly said.

He wasn't alone.

"Everything he does kind of surprises you," Brad Faxon said after an eagle on No. 18 put him in a tie for first with Daly and Larry Mize.

Daly has a history of springing surprises, whether winning the PGA Championship as an alternate in 1991, winning the British Open at St. Andrews in 1995 or some of his wild living that has made him a cult figure in golf.

"I play a lot more conservatively than I used to, and I think that's starting to pay off," Daly said.

And he still hits it long.

Daly needed only a 2-iron and a 4-iron to reach the green on the 551-yard 18th hole, which set up a two-putt birdie. He reached the back fringe on his closing hole, the 510-yard ninth, with a 6-iron for another birdie.

In Friday's second round, Faxon made an eagle putt on his final hole for the second straight day, walked off a windy course with another 64 and opened an early five-stroke lead. He was at 12-under 128 and headed to the beach about the time Daly and the other afternoon starters teed off.

WOODS TO PLAY PHOENIX: Tiger Woods will play in next week's Phoenix Open, giving the PGA tournament the strongest field in its 69-year history: The top 16 players from last year's money list, and at least 27 of the top 30.

MASTERCARD SENIORS: Fred Gibson matched the course record with 8-under 64 to take the first-round lead at Hualalai, Hawaii. He ran off nine birdies through 17 holes before bogeying the 425-yard ninth hole, which he played last.

Bruce Fleisher and Leonard Thompson shot 66 on the 7,053-yard Hualalai Golf Club course, and Larry Nelson, Jim Thorpe and Dave Eichelberger shot 67.

DUNHILL CHAMPIONSHIP: Dean Robertson shot 2-under 70 and held a one-stroke lead at 132 over England's Nick Faldo and five others at Johannesburg, South Africa. Robertson had four birdies and two bogeys, a much more uneven round than his opening course-record 62.

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