Originally created 03/01/97

Faldo trails Pooley by 1 in Nissan Open



LOS ANGELES - Don Pooley, who hasn't won a title in a decade and has to scramble just to get into tournaments this year, shot a 3-under-par 68 Friday to take the Nissan Open lead.

Pooley went to 7-under through two rounds at Riviera Country Club, with some of the tour's biggest names, including Tiger Woods, within striking distance of the lead.

Nick Faldo, Mark O'Meara and Scott Hoch were in a group one shot off the pace, along with Tom Tryba. Defending champion Craig Stadler and Payne Stewart another stroke back.

Fred Couples and Tom Watson, both two-time champions at Riviera, were at 4-under, and Woods, who shot his second consecutive 70, was in a group five shots behind Pooley

Faldo, the defending Masters champion, opened a two-shot lead when he birdied the 10th hole to go to 9-under, but he didn't last long at the top of the leader board.

Faldo pushed his second shot on the par-4, 413-yard 12th hole out of bounds and hit his third shot into the barranca to the left of the green on his way to a double bogey. He lost another shot to par at No. 16 and finished with a 70.

Woods, 21, has won three of the 12 events he's played since turning pro last fall, including the first event in California this year, the Tournament of Champions.

The 45-year-old Pooley, who came on tour in 1976, lost his exempt status by finishing 169th on the 1996 money list. So he gets into tournaments this year only via a sponsor's exemption or a top 10 finish the week before.

He's still had a fine year so far, with fifth-place finishes at Indian Wells, Calif., and Tucson, Ariz., and a couple of sponsor's exemptions, he's made it into four events and won $134,126.

On a day when the stately, cypress-lined Riviera Country Club course was made more difficult by shifting wind, Pooley moved ahead with a steady round, two birdies on the front nine and two more birdies and a lone bogey on the back.

That contrasted with some up-and-down performances.

Watson, who began his round on the 10th tee, got on a roll, going to 8-under and into the lead with a birdie on No. 1. But then he slipped back, too, bogeying three of his last six holes and finishing with a 71.

O'Meara, a two-time winner already this year, had a 69, and Hoch, who shared the first-round lead with Stewart, a 71. Tryba shot a 66.

Missing the cut, which came at 145 and beyond, were fomer U.S. Open champions Lee Jansen and Ernie Els.

DIVOTS: Woods won't play at Doral next week, instead remaining in Los Angeles to be with his father. ... After hitting his approach on No. 11 into the crowd, Stewart recovered by lofting a picture-perfect third shot to within inches of the flag. The crowd cheered and a couple of fans yelled, "Great shot!" Stewart turned to the gallery, raised his arms in a salute, grinned and said, "Hey, I'm a professional." ... When Woods pulled his second shot into the crowd alongside the elevated second green, one balding, shorts-clad spectator, scrambling to get out of the way, went tumbling backward down the slope, knocking down the gallery ropes in the process. The ball went through the spot where he had been sitting and trickled onto the fringe, with the crowd cheering the tumbling fan. Woods smiled and asked him if he was OK, and he was.