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PGA TOUR By one shot, Furyk holds 2nd-round Pebble Beach lead



Published: Mon, February 10, 2003 @ 12:00 a.m.



He also is playing with his boyhood idol, Lynn Swann, in the pro-am event.

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (AP) -- Taking the second-round lead at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am was a thrill for Jim Furyk, though it didn't really compare to the thrill of playing with one of his boyhood idols.

Furyk birdied his final three holes for a 6-under-par 66 Friday, moving one stroke atop a crowded leaderboard while teaming up with former Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Lynn Swann.

First-round leader Kevin Sutherland was among five players sitting one stroke back, with Davis Love III and five-time Pebble Beach champion Mark O'Meara two strokes off the pace.

An impressive round at Poppy Hills was nothing for Furyk compared to his trip behind the Steel Curtain this weekend. Furyk grew up in Pennsylvania as a huge Steelers fan, and he still holds season tickets in Pittsburgh.

Many pros are quietly annoyed by the pro-am format and the resulting six-hour rounds at Pebble Beach, but Furyk arranged his pairing with Swann several months ago. He resisted the urge to reminisce about Super Bowl triumphs with the Hall of Famer, however.

"I wanted to be his partner if he was going to play," said Furyk, who was at 7-under 137 after two rounds. "I figure on my days off, I don't want to talk about golf, so I haven't quizzed him too much. I could probably bore him to death for hours."

Scores fairly high

Scores are fairly high through the first two rounds, thanks largely to the gorgeous weather that has confounded most pros' usual approach to the Monterey Peninsula's three normally soggy courses.

An intermittent wind kicked up Friday, particularly for the golfers playing Spyglass Hill, but the firm, dry fairways and greens forced big adjustments for every competitor.

"It's just been different," said Furyk, who matched Tim Clark for the best round of the day. "I've never seen the golf courses this way in a lot of years playing here.

"I never realized how much slope there is on some of these greens. I've played here a lot when the greens were very wet, and they're usually slow. Not this year."

Five players share second

Tiger Woods isn't scheduled to return from knee surgery until next week when he plays at the Buick Invitational in San Diego, but there's no shortage of competition at the pro-am. Paul Stankowski, Tim Herron, Rod Pampling and Tom Lehman joined Sutherland at 6 under.

Robert Gamez, who led at the turn Friday, had four bogeys and a double-bogey on the back nine at Pebble Beach to plummet seven strokes off the pace.

Furyk's closest competitors aren't big names, with 11 combined victories among the five.

Pampling, an Australian who was a PGA Tour rookie last season, is best known for taking the lead after the first round of the 1999 British Open -- and then missing the cut, following his opening 71 with an 86 at Carnoustie, Scotland.

"Whenever there's wind around these courses, it's always going to be hard to pick them," Pampling said. "The hard thing was that it was coming up and then dying down. It wasn't a consistent direction."

O'Meara eagled No. 2 at Pebble Beach and closed with three birdies in his final five holes, but it's never a surprise to see O'Meara among the leaders at the tournament he has won five times since 1985.

The Prince of Pebble Beach actually enjoyed playing without the huge galleries that inevitably follow Woods, his friend, neighbor and frequent playing partner in this tournament.

Woods to return next week

Woods is home in Orlando preparing for his return to the PGA Tour, but he's following the happenings at Pebble Beach, where he missed the field for the first time since 1996.

While O'Meara was at the famous Tap Room with a couple of Irish friends on Thursday night, he sent a text phone message to Woods, joking about Phil Mickelson's recent comments about Woods' Nike equipment. O'Meara got an immediate reply.

"It said, 'Six birdies, 1 under par ..."' O'Meara said, recalling his unsatisfying Thursday round. "I can't tell you what he put under that."




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