Originally created 09/01/01

Edwards leads Air Canada Championship



SURREY, British Columbia -- Joel Edwards is doing his best to hold off a talented group of newcomers as the 39-year-old veteran chases his first tour title.

Edwards, playing his 12th season on the PGA Tour, shot a 4-under-par 67 Friday to take a two-stroke lead over Matt Kuchar and Sweden's Per-Ulrik Johansson in the Air Canada Championship.

Edwards had a 10-under 132 total to top the leaderboard entering the weekend.

"Good grief, I can't remember," Edwards said when asked about his last 36-hole lead. "It was the Honda, I guess, and I think it was '91, maybe."

Actually it was 1990, but Edwards also led midway through the 1996 Nortel Open in Tucson.

Kuchar, the 23-year-old former Georgia Tech star who won the 1997 U.S. Amateur, matched Johansson with a 66 on the Northview Golf and Country Club course.

David Gossett, the 22-year-old player who won the John Deere Classic in late July for his first tour title, was three strokes back after a 68. He won the 1999 U.S. Amateur.

On a day when the wind picked up, the greens firmed up and most of the scores went up, Edwards stayed on the fairway all day in his bogey-free round.

"I played extremely, extremely well from tee to green," Edwards said. "With this rough, it's so brutal and now that the greens are a little firmer to be able to make it through without a bogey is going to be hard, but I was happy to be able to do it today."

Kuchar, who started on the back nine, birdied five of his first 10 holes before dropping a stroke on No. 8.

"I hit some good shots and converted my good opportunities, but overall it wasn't all that impressive of a ball-striking round," said Kuchar, who made his third straight cut after missing the first three this year.

"I don't know if you have stats for fairways and greens, but I didn't hit many of either. I was just chipping and putting very well. I took advantage of my opportunities when I was in the fairway and had a chance to go at the pin."

Kuchar chipped in from 5 feet off the front edge at No. 13 and narrowly missed an eagle on the 432-yard, par-4 first hole when his 4-iron approach from 185 yards lipped out.

Gossett got off to a fast start by chipping in from 40 feet for birdie on his first hole. He added another birdie on his third hole, then ran off nine straight pars before adding a birdie on the back nine.

"Any time you play and beat old man par and don't have any bogeys, it's a good day," Gossett said. "This is only halftime. We've still got two more rounds to go.

Brent Schwarzrock and Shigeki Maruyama shot their second-straight 68s to join Brent Geiberger, Greg Kraft and Tommy Armour III at 6 under. Defending champion Rory Sabbatini and Monday qualifier Michael Combs topped an eight-player group at 5 under.

Canadian Mike Weir, who won the 1999 tournament for the first of his two PGA Tour titles, shot a 71 to miss the cut at 2 over.

There was a scary moment late in the round when Phil Tataurangi collapsed on the 17th tee. After a 20-minute delay, he ignored the advice of doctors and resumed play.

The 29-year-old New Zealander fell to the ground, clutching his chest, midway through the second round. He never lost consciousness, but paramedics placed him on a stretcher at the side of the tee box and hooked him up to an oxygen tank.

Tataurangi suffers from superventricular tachycardia, a heart condition that causes a sudden increase in his heart rate.

"Yeah, I m fine," Tataurangi said after finishing with a 72 to miss the cut by three strokes.

Divots: Seventy-three players made the cut, which was at 1-under 141. ... Erik Compton became the first heart-transplant patient to play a PGA Tour event when he made his professional debut this week. The 21-year-old player from Miami had a transplant when he was 12. He opened with a 68, but missed the cut after shooting a 75 Friday. ... Jeff Quinney, the 2000 U.S. Amateur champion, missed the cut in his pro debut with a 143 total. James Driscoll, the runner-up in the 2000 U.S. Amateur, advanced with a 138 total. He also is playing his first pro tournament.