Originally created 01/27/01

Calcavecchia takes Phoenix Open lead



SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- By the time he put two balls in the water on the 15th hole, Tiger Woods knew his streak was about to end. A few holes over, Mark Calcavecchia was doing some streaking of his own - straight toward one of golf's magical numbers.

Calcavecchia didn't get his 59, but did manage an 11-under 60 Friday to tie the PGA Tour record for lowest 36-hole score and take a commanding lead midway through the Phoenix Open.

"I thought I was going to birdie the last three for a 59," Calcavecchia said. "You don't get that chance often, so I was aiming at the flags."

Calcavecchia birdied two of the final three holes, barely missing a 20-footer for a third birdie on his 17th hole that would have given him a final shot at the 59 that has only been shot three times in PGA Tour history.

It was the lowest score ever for the two-time Phoenix winner, who birdied five of his last six holes in the first round and added 11 more birdies against no bogeys in the second.

"I do get on stretches when I'm pretty scary good," Calcavecchia said. "I get a little streaky, that's for sure."

Woods, meanwhile, saw his remarkable streak of 52 straight rounds of par or better come to a watery end with a 2-over 73 that left him 13 shots back.

"You can't always have a streak and not have it end," a philosophical Woods said. "Unfortunately it ended today because I just didn't make the putts I wanted to make."

Woods hadn't shot worse than par since the first round of the Byron Nelson Classic on May 11, a streak that included 14 PGA Tour events. If you count all competitive rounds during that stretch - which Woods does - the streak would be 62 rounds of par or better.

But the putter that had pulled out other rounds when Woods wasn't striking the ball well didn't cooperate at the par 71 TPC of Scottsdale course where Woods had shot a seemingly effortless 66 only the day before.

Woods put two balls in the water on the par-5 15th to effectively end his chances, although he still could have matched par had he holed an 87-yard wedge shot on the final hole.

"It's not the fact I'm hitting it terrible," Woods said. "If I just make a couple more putts, I could have been right there."

Putting was not a problem for Calcavecchia, who holed almost everything he looked at in a nearly flawless round that missed being in the 50s only by two putts he left just short in the middle of the cup.

Calcavecchia's 125 total matched a record set by Woods in the NEC Invitational last year, and put him five shots ahead of Scott Verplank and six ahead of Rocco Mediate. A frost delay pushed back play Friday, and darkness forced part of the field to come back Saturday to finish their second rounds.

The course played tougher overall than on the first day when three players shared the lead with 64s, mainly due to tougher pin locations. But it didn't seem to matter to Calcavecchia, who won here in 1989 and 1992 and shot his previous best round here - a 62 - in 1996.

"This course isn't that easy," Calcavecchia said. "You can't measure it by what I shot today."

Woods agreed, after making four bogeys against two birdies.

"Calc was playing a different golf course today," Woods said. "The pins were a lot tougher than they were yesterday, except for Calc."

Playing the back nine first, Calcavecchia birdied his first hole, parred the next two and then made three birdies in a row. He shot 31 on the back, then finished with birdies on four of the last five holes for a 29 on the front side.

Calcavecchia had gotten up Friday morning to watch The Golf Channel before coming to the course. He saw on there that Paul Gow had shot a 60 in the Canon Challenge in Australia.

"I'm thinking, like, man, how can he shoot a 60?" Calcavecchia said.

He found out himself a few hours later.

"He hit every shot at the hole for his. Today I did the same thing," Calcavecchia said.

Divots: David Duval is playing the new Nike blade irons this week, the first player to use the clubs in a tour event. Duval was at 1-over 143 and was expected to miss the cut. ... Calcavecchia has left the IMG group and will now be represented by Gaylord Sports Management. ... Attendance Friday was estimated at 117,000, up from 98,500 the same day last year when Woods didn't play. ... Before Woods began his streak, the longest streak of par or better rounds was 29 by Nolan Henke in 1991.