Originally created 12/15/01

Singh survives weather, takes lead



THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. - Vijay Singh got hot in the middle of his round, which was quite an accomplishment at the bone-chilling Williams World Challenge.

Singh, who honed his game in the steamy of jungle of Borneo, bundled up and birdied five straight holes on his way to a 6-under 66 on Friday, giving him a one-stroke lead over tournament host Tiger Woods at Sherwood Country Club.

Singh, one of four players in the 18-man field who didn't win on his home tour this year, was at 134 and had only one complaint.

"I didn't like the weather," he said.

What was to like?

It was foggy and cold, then rainy and cold and finally windy and cold. Temperatures stayed in the 40s most of the afternoon, not exactly what anyone expected when they accepted Tiger's invitation to Southern California to play for $1 million.

"I don't believe anyone mentioned this weather in the brochure," David Duval cracked as he walked down the fourth fairway in a light, steady rain that came down sideways.

Woods blew into his hands before putting. It worked OK, especially when he made four birdies on the back nine for a 67.

"I'm still numb," said Woods, who changed clothes three times - from rain jacket to waterproof vest to turtleneck to sweater. "It was a tough day mentally and physically."

Fred Couples, the co-leader with Mark O'Meara after the first round, was plodding along just fine until taking a double bogey on the par-3 15th. He still managed a 71 and was three strokes behind at 137, along with Bernhard Langer.

Jesper Parnevik had the best round of the day, a 7-under 65 that put him at 138.

O'Meara got off to a bad start when he hit into the hazard on the par-5 second hole while trying to lay up - from the fairway. Despite a double bogey on the back, he still managed to limit the damage to a 74. He was at 140.

It could have been worse.

Thomas Bjorn had an 80. Scott Verplank started the day two strokes out of the lead and wound up 10 strokes behind after a 76. That also was the margin in his twosome with Singh.

The former Masters and PGA champion turned it on at the turn. Whether he was hitting bump-and-run shots or spinning back wedges, he never put much distance between his ball and the hole during his five-birdie run.

The best advice he got all day came from his wife, Ardena.

"Don't make a bogey," she told him after Singh hit into the trees on the 18th. Like a good husband, he saved his par and goes into the weekend with the lead.

It would be a nice way for Singh to end the year, even though Tiger's tournament doesn't count toward the money list or the world ranking.

Singh's only two victories this year came in Malaysia and Singapore, but his PGA Tour season will be remembered for two statistics - $3.3 million, 0 wins.