Originally created 07/17/04

Byrd leads after second round of B.C. Open



ENDICOTT, N.Y. -- Byrd for birdie. It almost became monotonous.

Jonathan Byrd had nine birdies Friday in a 7-under 65 that gave him a one-shot lead after two rounds of the B.C. Open.

Daniel Chopra and John Morgan, who lost in a playoff last week at the John Deere Classic, were tied for second at 11-under 133. Chopra had a 65 and Morgan a 68.

Another shot back were Todd Fischer, Chris Smith, Roland Thatcher and Neal Lancaster. First-round leader Kelly Gibson skied to a 74 after an opening 64 to fall into a tie for 34th.

Kevin Stadler, who began the round one shot behind Gibson, flirted with the lead all day. He made it to 11 under with an eagle at the par-5 12th but bogeyed his final two holes to finish with a 70 and drop back to 9-under 135 with six others.

Craig Stadler, Kevin's father and the defending champion, shot a 69 and was another stroke back.

Robert Gamez had 11 birdies and equaled the En-Joie Golf Club course record with an 11-under 61 in the afternoon, tying Hal Sutton (1995) and Fred Funk (1999). Notah Begay shot a 62 in the morning on the strength of 10 birdies over the soggy, forgiving course.

Byrd, who had an opening 67, had five birdies and a bogey on the back nine to reach 9 under, then birdied No. 1 to move into contention. He made a 15-foot birdie putt at No. 6 to go 12 under, fell back with a three-putt bogey at the par-4 seventh, then regained sole possession of the lead with a 5-foot birdie putt at No. 8.

After undergoing hip surgery in February, it was a welcome relief.

"I felt good the last three months, but it's been a struggle coming back," said Byrd, who has missed eight cuts this year. "I haven't got it done, but I've seen a lot of good signs."

So, too, has Morgan, who lost to Mark Hensby last week in a two-hole playoff.

"It's very unfamiliar territory, that's for sure, but a territory I very much like, I must admit, just being there and competing," said Morgan, who missed four cuts in his first five tournaments this year. "Something's clicking. I don't know what it is, but I'm just running with it and seeing what happens.

"I had a lot of good feelings coming into this tournament," said Morgan, who finished in a tie for fifth here a year ago. "It's a great feeling knowing that the crowd are going to be behind me because of last year."

At the start of play Friday, the course was somewhat drier than Thursday's opening round, which was delayed nearly a half hour by rain. And the short and narrow layout again was in terrific shape for low scoring as players were allowed to lift, clean and place for the second straight day.

A shower struck just before 2 p.m. and again halted play for just over 30 minutes, but it had no effect. The cut line was 2-under, and Funk just made it at 142. However, his quest to secure Ryder Cup points seemed doomed since he was 12 shots off the lead in a tie for 67th.

On second thought, maybe not.

Like Funk, Gamez seemed ready to pack his bags after an opening 75. But his putter began working and he staged a magnificent rally playing in one of the final groups Friday.

"Yesterday, I had 34 putts. That's all I can say," Gamez said with a wry smile after needing only 23 on Friday. "It was just one of those days. I made nothing. Today, when I hit a good shot, it stayed close and the greens are perfect. They're rolling really well."

Divots: Begay's round was the seventh 62 in B.C. Open history. ... Rookie Camilo Villegas of Colombia continued his fine play with a 70 and was tied for eighth at 9-under 135.