Originally created 04/22/00

Sutton pulls away on windy day



GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Hal Sutton missed a 4-foot par putt on the first hole Friday when his ball hit a spike mark. Little else went wrong.

Sutton, the U.S. Ryder Cup star who won the Players Championship last month, overcame 25 mph gusts for a masterful 8-under-par 64 to take a five-stroke lead after the second round of the Greater Greensboro Chrysler Classic.

Sutton had 11 birdies and three bogeys en route to his low round of the season. He birdied all of the par-3s and par-5s at Forest Oaks Country Club to finish at 13-under 131.

"The hard part about playing golf well is knowing when to hit the accelerator and when to hit the brake," Sutton said of his club selection during a windy day "That's got to change, not round to round, but shot to shot.

"That's something I've been working hard on this year, being able to identify that prior to the shot rather than after the shot. I got tired of saying, `Well, I wish I would have played a little bit more conservative there or I wish I would have been a little bit more aggressive.' That's why I'm here."

Sutton needed only 24 putts on the speedy greens, including birdie putts of 35 and 50 feet in carding a 5-under 31 over his final nine holes.

"He was almost looking like I did last year," said defending champion and playing partner Jesper Parnevik. "He holed some monster putts. It was fun to watch. Anytime anyone shoots 64 it's fun."

Sutton's closest competition is Barry Cheesman, who has never won on the PGA Tour but moved into contention with a 66 and is at 8-under 136.

Seven other players are tied for third at 138, seven shots behind Sutton. That group included Parnevik, who shot a second-straight 69, and Brian Henninger, who shared the first-round lead with Scott Verplank.

Meanwhile, Verplank followed up his first-round 66 with a 74 to fall back into the field.

Cheesman, 116th on the money list, started the day at 2 under and four shots behind the leaders. But he fired a 6-under 30 on the front side to move atop the leaderboard before Sutton teed off.

"When you're playing good most courses set up good for you," Cheesman said of his weekend chances at Forest Oaks.

"I've driven the ball very well the last month, so if I keep hitting the fairways I will give myself a chance. But I am not known as a real accurate driver, and to win here you have to be because the rough is high -- unless they plan on baling some hay in the next day or two."

Cheesman closed the front nine with a 5-iron within 4 feet on the 221-yard par-3 No. 8 for birdie, then nailed a 2-iron within 5 feet for an eagle on the par-5 ninth.

He got to 9 under when he chipped in from 30 feet on No. 12, but missed a 3-foot birdie putt a hole later and then bogeyed when he missed another short one on the 14th hole.

Despite the short misses, Cheesman had 28 putts each of his first two rounds, much better than his average of 29.64 that ranked him a dismal 142nd on tour.

Cheesman credited his improved putting to a cross-handed grip he adopted this week.

"I felt like I needed something different," Cheesman said. "Cross-handed does some things for me that I like. It squares my shoulders up, widens my stance out. And it actually keeps my putter lower through the ball. I have a tendency to come up out of putts the other way, when I putt conventionally."