Dou leads; Woods in dangerous territory after 72

Updated: February 19, 2004, 9:45 PM ET
Associated Press

LOS ANGELES -- PGA champion Shaun Micheel doesn't feel like a star, not with Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh in the Nissan Open, and certainly not in star-crazed Los Angeles.

Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods struggled to find the short grass, and will begin the second round a shot below the cut line.

As long as he plays like one, that's fine with him.

Micheel put some putting practice to good use Thursday, holing a 30-foot eagle putt and a couple of other long birdies for a 7-under 64 at Riviera and a share of the first-round lead with Shigeki Maruyama.

''I don't know what it takes to be a star,'' Micheel said. ''I don't know if I have that quality. I would like to become top 10 in the world at some point, be a more consistent player.''

Micheel and Maruyama, who played in the same group, had a one-shot lead over Hank Kuehne, while the group at 66 included defending champion Mike Weir and former Nissan Open winners Fred Couples and Robert Allenby.

Woods, meantime, continued to struggle at Riviera.

This is the only course on the PGA Tour he has played at least five times without winning, and Woods put himself in a hole with a 1-over 72, the first time he has been over par in the first round of a regular PGA Tour event since last year at Riviera.

Woods will start the second round below the cut line, needing a good score to extend his record streak of 116 consecutive cuts on the PGA Tour.

''My iron play was the most disappointing,'' Woods said. ''I hit some really nice drives, but I couldn't hit my irons close enough to make any birdies.''

Singh, whose streak of 12 top 10s ended last week at Torrey Pines when he missed the cut, didn't fare much better. Despite hitting 15 greens, he took 33 putts in a round of even-par 71.

It wasn't just Woods and Singh grabbing all the attention.

The loudest roars of a cool, overcast day belonged to John Daly, a winner last week for the first time on U.S. soil in 10 years. Daly was 2 over at the turn, but birdied the next three holes and the last two of his round for a 68.

His only complaint came at the end, when players have to walk up a 50-foot hill to the clubhouse to sign their cards.

''I just wish they'd put an escalator from the 18th green to the clubhouse,'' Daly said. ''I'm too fat to walk up this damn hill.''

Micheel breezed his way around Riviera, and wound up in the lead for the first time since his 7-iron into 2 inches on the final hole at Oak Hill gave him a two-shot victory in the PGA Championship.

He was relatively unknown until that first victory, but even a major championship does not jack the Q-rating through the smog over L.A.

''You work hard out here to try to win tournaments and earn the respect of your peers, and then you realize you don't have to earn the respect of the players, but the fans and the media, and that's very difficult,'' Micheel said. ''I think maybe I'm starting to get a handle on that.''

Not that Micheel is complaining.

He takes his status as a major champion seriously, and works hard at trying to meet whatever opportunities and obligations that comes his way.

What will it take to be a star?

''I don't know, maybe another PGA Championship,'' Micheel said. ''I'm trying to get there. I don't need that, really. I think I'm pretty grounded. I don't need five airplanes. I don't need six yachts. I need to make a living. I've got to be able to pay for my trip to L.A., pay for my hotel down there in Santa Monica.''

Maruyama isn't paying for that this week. He has a home in nearby Westwood and a membership at Riviera, although he doesn't usually play the storied course as well as he did Thursday.

The Japanese star -- yes, he's a big star at home -- had eight birdies and three times matched birdies with Micheel.

''Everything was very good,'' Maruyama said. ''I don't usually play well over here.''

Notes

The most unusual par belonged to Kevin Sutherland on the par-3 sixth, which has a bunker in the middle of the green. He hit 4-iron to the front right of the green, then tried to hammer a putt up and around the bunker, no small task with a long putter. ''I caught it fat,'' he said. The ball went into the bunker, and Sutherland holed out for par. ''My caddie told me I was the only guy who made par with a green-in-regulation and a sand save,'' he said. ... No one had a tougher start at Riviera than Olin Browne. Starting on the short 10th, he hit a wedge into the bunker, then took four shots to get out and wound up with an 8. After Browne made birdie two holes later, his caddie gave him his scorecard, then showed him the green Shotlink card that indicates club selection. It looked like the start of a Web site -- W-W-W-W-W. It might have been six straight wedges, but once Browne got out of the bunker, he used a fairway metal to putt from the first cut of rough. ... David Toms, in his first tournament since wrist surgery, had an even-par 71.


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press

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