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GOLF ROUNDUP

Woods (64-64) Not Alone at the Top

May 17, 1997|From Associated Press

Tiger Woods can shoot a 29 for nine holes and not even know it. Lee Rinker can shoot a 63 for 18 holes and no one else knows it.

That just about sums up the difference between Woods and the mere mortals on the PGA Tour. Woods is playing on a different level, the others are playing to virtual indifference.

A wildly appreciative gallery on the Cottonwood course cheered Woods' every move as he shot another 64 at the GTE Byron Nelson Classic on Friday, teasing the crowd in Irving, Texas, with dreams of a 59 when he played the first 11 holes seven under par.

"I went out in 29?" Woods said with genuine surprise when asked about his front-nine score. "I had no idea."

Rinker, meanwhile, couldn't have gotten a good poker game together with his gallery. He made a 50-foot putt, chipped in from 50 feet another time and finished with three consecutive birdies as he shot a 63 on the TPC course at the Four Seasons Resort.

"What gallery?" Rinker replied when asked how many people followed his round. "I think the only people following us were family members."

Woods and Rinker were at 12-under-par 128 after 36 holes, one stroke ahead of Mike Standly and two better than Paul Stankowski and Jim Furyk.

Tom Watson, a four-time winner of the Nelson, was in a group at 131.

But the round that set everyone's heart racing was by Woods.

He birdied four holes in a row starting at No. 2--three times on putts of 12 feet or less--and picked up another birdie on No. 8--on an eight-footer--to turn the par-34 front nine in 29, needing only 11 putts.

"There is not a hole on either of these courses where par is a good score for him," Rinker, a non-winner in three years on the tour, said about Woods.

"I'll be pumped playing with him tomorrow. The adrenaline will be flowing. Maybe I'll be able to hit it within 50 yards of him."

*

Playing in cool temperatures and swirling wind gusts that blew up to 30 mph, Sherri Steinhauer blew past the competition with a par round of 71 for a three-under 139 total and a two-shot lead halfway through LPGA Championship in Rockland, Del.

Leta Lindley, with a 69, was the only golfer to break par on the wind-swept DuPont Country Club course. Lindley, Barb Mucha and Chris Johnson were at 141 and first-round leader and defending champion Laura Davies was alone in fifth at 142 despite shooting a 75.

Annika Sorenstam, the leading money-winner on the tour, shot a 73 and was among four players at 143. That group included Kim Saiki, who was three under with three holes left before closing with two bogeys and a double bogey.

Steinhauer, who hasn't won an LPGA event since 1994, offset a double bogey and three bogeys with five birdies during a whirlwind round on the 6,386-yard course.

"I made some bad swings out there where it looked like the weather was playing me," she said. "There is no doubt the key to my round today was putting. I made some unbelievable saving par putts and made a lot of long birdies."

It was the exception rather than the rule on a day in which only three golfers--Lindley, Steinhauer and Donna Andrews--shot par or better.

Davies opened on the back nine and four-putted on 10 after reaching the green 20 feet from the pin, a sure indication that it wasn't going to be her day.

"That first hole was such a shock. That's the second time I ever four-putted," Davies said. "The last time was in Italy eight or 10 years ago."

"Par would have been a good round today. It's one of the toughest ones I've played in a long time," said Nancy Lopez, who shot a 79, 10 strokes worse than her opening-round score.

Lopez finished at 148, but that was good enough make the bloated cut of eight-over 150.

*

George Archer took a major step in his comeback from a hip replacement by shooting a five-under 67 in gusty winds for a four-shot lead after the first round of the $950,000 Cadillac NFL Classic at Clifton, N.J.

Mike McCullough and Hugh Baiocchi, at one under, were the only other players in the field of 78 to break par on the narrow 6,816-yard Upper Montclair Country Club, which was buffeted by winds of 20 to 30 mph.

The first-round lead was the largest on the Senior PGA Tour this year. Archer took command by needing only 24 putts.

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