Originally created 01/20/06

Campbell stays strong



PALM DESERT, Calif. - Chad Campbell shot 6-under par 66 on Thursday to take a four-shot lead through two rounds of the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic.

Campbell, who tied for second in Hawaii last week, remained bogey-free through 36 holes of the 90-hole event and is at 15-under 129.

Pat Perez had a wind-blown, waterlogged round and struggled to 73 after an opening 60 and was tied for second with John Senden, who had 63 to go to 11 under.

Despite gusting winds at times during the second day, Campbell managed to make six birdies at La Quinta, one of four courses used for the first four days of the tournament.

His birdies included putts of 25 and 20 feet.

Perez, whose 12-under round Wednesday was the lowest ever to start the traditionally low- scoring Hope, struggled much of the second round at the new Classic Club at Northstar. Playing in swirling winds, he was 4 over for the day before he birdied four of six holes beginning at No. 12.

He had a 4-iron into the water at No. 18 for his sixth bogey of the day.

Olin Browne had 69 at La Quinta, and Steve Elkington had 70 at PGA West to tie for fourth at 10 under.

Phil Mickelson, the 2002 and 2004 champion, shot 69 at PGA West that left him six shots off the lead at 135. Mike Weir, the 2003 champion, shot 69 and was in a group another stroke behind.

The 31-year-old Campbell, a two-time tournament champion, came close last Sunday to winning for the first time since his victory in the 2004 Bay Hill Invitational. Tied with David Toms headed into Sunday, Campbell finished with a 70 to Toms' winning 65 and tied for second with Rory Sabbatini.

Campbell had an "entertaining" second day at the Hope. He was paired with singers Alice Cooper, Justin Timberlake and Darius Rucker of Hootie and the Blowfish.

"It was a great group," Campbell said. "They hit some good shots and we just had a good time. The fans were great.

"We had quite a few people out there watching. Everybody knows what's going on, so they are quiet whenever I'm hitting and then whenever the others are hitting or entertaining them (the fans), it can get loud at times."

David Duval, after shooting a first-round 69, ballooned to 78, also at the Classic Club.

ABU DHABI: In the United Arab Emirates, Vijay Singh shot 4-under-par 68 in the first round of the inaugural event, leaving him two strokes behind surprise leader Keith Horne of South Africa.

Argentina's Ricardo Gonzalez and Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand were also two strokes back.

Horne upstaged many of the big names.

"I just tried to play a good round of golf without thinking too much about what's happening around me," he said. "Obviously the course was new to everyone and that was an advantage."

CHAMPIONS TOUR BEGINS: In Ka'upuleho-Kona, Hawaii, defending champion Dana Quigley heads an elite field of 35 golfers who will tee it up today at the $1.7 million MasterCard Championship at Hualalai.

The event is limited to major championship winners over the past five years and other tournament winners in the past two. There are also four sponsors' exemptions, including Ben Crenshaw and Curtis Strange, who will be making their inaugural tour of the Jack Nicklaus-designed course on the Big Island.

The MasterCard Championship is the first of the tour's 29 events, which include a new tournament in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. The senior circuit also travels to 17 states and Scotland for a total of $52.65 million in prize money.