Verplank drops back into a first-place tie

THOUSAND PALMS, Calif. - Scott Verplank spoiled a bogey-free round with a shot that found water on the final hole Thursday, but his 6-under-par 66 still was good enough for a share of the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic lead.


Justin Rose holed a pair of bunker shots on the way to 65 that also put him at 12 under and tied at the top through two rounds of the five-day tournament.

Verplank, who finished in a second-place tie in the Hope last year, began the second day tied for fourth, three strokes behind leader Robert Allenby.

Starting on the back nine at the Classic Club, one of four courses used for the first four rounds, Verplank teed up on his last hole of the day one shot ahead of Rose, who already had finished.

Verplank's second shot on the 595-yard, par-5 ninth hit the bank near the green and rolled into the water. After a drop, he had a 30-foot putt for par, but left it 5 feet short.

Rose, who tied for 10th in the 2006 tournament, knocked in his bunker shot for an eagle on the par-5, 516-yard fifth at La Quinta Country Club. He duplicated that feat with another out of the sand for a birdie on the par-3, 202-yard 12th.

Allenby followed his opening 63 with 70 and was tied for third with Johnson Wagner at 11 under. Wagner had 67.

Phil Mickelson, in his first event of the year, shot his second consecutive 70, leaving him eight shots behind the leaders. He won the tournament in 2002 and 2004.

Defending champion Chad Campbell stumbled to 74 at La Quinta that dropped him 12 strokes back at even par.

Augusta's Vaughn Taylor played the PGA West Palmer Course, as did former Augusta resident Charles Howell. Taylor, who opened with 69, had 70 and is at 139. Howell followed an opening 70 with 71 and is at 141. Taylor started his round on the back nine and shot 2-over 38. He rebounded with 4-under 32 on the front.

Howell's round was highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 14th hole but followed that with a double bogey on No. 15, a par 3.

Verplank, whose most recent of four PGA Tour titles came in the 2001 Canadian Open, finished second twice last year and has been a runner-up six times since his last victory. He's making his 2007 debut in the Hope.

Rose, a 26-year-old native of Johannesburg who grew up in London, is looking for his second tour victory.



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