Originally created 04/29/00

Trio share one-shot lead



THE WOODLANDS, Texas -- Craig Stadler already had the shot of the tournament. He also got a share of the lead.

The day after he made the first double-eagle of his career, Stadler shot a 3-under-par 69 Friday and shared a one-shot lead with Loren Roberts and Robert Allenby after 36 holes of the $2.8 million Houston Open.

The trio were at 9-under 135 after two trips around the 7,019-yard course at the TPC at The Woodlands.

"I tried for the first few holes to avoid disaster," Stadler said. "I just kind of got myself through the front nine. Then, I got more confident with the putting on the backside and coming in was pretty good."

On Thursday, Stadler had the second double-eagle 2 on the PGA Tour this year, holing a 3-wood from 245 yards on the 521-yard 15th hole.

Carlos Franco, the first-round co-leader, shot a 71 Friday and was at 136 with Fred Funk, Matt Gogel, Paul Stankowski, Mark Brooks and Scott Hoch.

Hank Kuehne, who shared the first-round lead with Franco, had a 74 and was at 139.

Stadler had three birdies and three bogeys on the front nine. He managed three good up-and-downs to start the back nine and then settled down. His birdie on the final hole moved him into the tie for the lead.

"I got a good putt on 18 after driving into the fringe rough," Stadler said. "So it was just kind of a day to get a 3-under. It was a pretty good score for the way I played."

Allenby and Roberts each 67.

Roberts birdied four of his first six holes and overcame bogeys on the first two holes of back nine.

"I had dinner with Carol Mann the other day," Roberts said of the LPGA great. "We were kind of talking about a couple of things. I got a little idea and went out yesterday and bingo, it worked today. Pretty good as a matter of fact."

After his bogeys, Roberts had three more birdies, finishing on No. 9 by running in a 12-footer. He hopes it's a sign he's heating up.

"I've been pretty lucky to shoot some low numbers," Roberts said. "I think for me it's a matter of, when I putt well, that's it. When I get on a roll with the putter sometimes, it gets pretty hot."

Despite his 7-under round, Hoch didn't like the short cut rough, which he said offered little penalty for those who sprayed a shot off the fairway.

"I probably would have missed the cut given the normal conditions here," Hoch said. "But since they decided to put the ladies' rough out there. ...

"Somebody's got the idea that we want to play with less rough and harder greens. Let's go ahead and let the long hitters win every week. They're what runs the tour. They're what makes the Neilsen ratings go up and everything else. Maybe that's what they're doing."

Hoch didn't drive the ball well Friday but didn't feel he was penalized for it.

"I didn't drive it any good and I shoot seven under, that's not supposed to happen," Hoch said.

Jack Nicklaus was on the course as a spectator, watching his son Gary shoot a 1-over 73 for a 143 total. He graciously declined to sign autographs during the round saying "I'm a Dad today." Nicklaus later accommodated a large crowd of autograph seekers.

Hal Sutton, coming off a victory in the Greater Greensboro Classic and the only top 10 money-winner in the field, had a 69 and was at 140.