Originally created 09/21/03

Damron's 66 gives him share of 84 Lumber Classic lead



FARMINGTON, Pa. -- Robert Damron is like most of those high up the leaderboard at the rain-delayed 84 Lumber Classic. He's not just playing for a nice paycheck this week, he's playing for next year.

Damron, looking for a high finish to keep his exempt status on the PGA Tour, and Cameron Beckman each followed up first-round 67s with 6-under par 66s Saturday to share the second-round lead.

Damron, whose only tour victory came at the 2001 Byron Nelson Classic, and Beckman were at 11-under 133. Brett Quigley, Jesper Parnevik and Heath Slocum were at 10-under 134, just ahead of a large group at 9 under on the 7,276-yard Mystic Rock course, a $19-million mountaintop layout that has plenty of score-lowering wide fairways.

Mystic Rock easily soaked up the three inches of Hurricane Isabel-deposited rain that caused Friday's round to be called off, but the field still was allowed to lift, clean and place their shots Saturday. Quigley estimated that cut two strokes off every player's round.

Helped by that, Slocum, Tom Scherrer and Billy Andrade all matched the course record with 8-under 64s. Scherrer is at 9 under and Andrade is 7 under.

"Honestly, the course did a great job of taking the rain," Damron said. "The greens were soft, but they weren't ridiculous."

Because of the delay, tour officials will try to play the final two rounds Sunday. They attempted to do the same thing at last week's John Deere Classic in Silvis, Ill., but many in the field were forced to finish Monday.

With Mystic Rock drying out and dry weather predicted for Sunday, Beckman said, "It's going to be a birdie fest. The greens are soft, the fairways are soft, you've just got to hit them and make a lot of putts."

Nearly all the PGA Tour's big names are skipping the $4 million tournament, so Damron and many others deep down the money list are looking for a big finish.

Damron, for example, is exempt only through this year because of his 2001 Byron Nelson win. Among those at 9 under, Scherrer (No. 216), Kenneth Staton (No. 212), Scott Laycock (No. 163) and Craig Barlow (No. 120) also are down the list.

Jerry Kelly and Chris DiMarco, also at 9 under, are exceptions in that both are in the Top 25.

Quigley, who has consecutive 67s, is secure in 84th place on the money list, but is looking for his first tour win; his best finish to date was a second at the 2001 Greater Greensboro.

The shot of the day belonged to Mike Standly, whose 7-iron on the par-3, 193-yard No. 17 landed 2 feet behind the hole and spun back in for his first hole-in-one in 13 years as a pro. But he immediately three-putted No. 18 to drop back to 8 under.

"It was nice," Standly said. "It was just a perfect 7. ... It definitely helps out."

Standly is 224th on the money list and hasn't finished above 30th in an event this year.

John Daly, the unofficial tournament host, began hyperventilating on the No. 15 fairway and withdrew for the third time in his last four tournaments. He was 8 over and in next-to-last place at the time, though he had birdied the previous two holes.

Daly was treated for dehydration and felt better after receiving intravenous fluids, according to Daly's agent, Bud Martin, who is also the tournament's executive director.

Daly is a close friend of 84 Lumber founder Joe Hardy, who has helped Daly combat some of his problems that led the former PGA Championship and British Open winner to enter a rehabilitation center. A golf teaching academy named in Daly's honor is located at the Nemacolin Woodlands resort, and 84 Lumber is one of Daly's sponsors.

Daly has failed to complete five PGA events this year.