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Weir birdies five of last seven holes

LOS ANGELES -- Mike Weir's victory last year at Riviera was
no fluke.

Neither was John Daly's victory last week.

Weir birdied five of his last seven holes Friday for a 7-under
64 that gave him a tie for the lead with Shigeki Maruyama, a share
of the 36-hole record at the Nissan Open and hopes of becoming the
first back-to-back winner at Riviera since Ben Hogan.

None of that seemed to matter to a gallery gone gaga over Daly.

Coming off a stunning victory last week at Torrey Pines -- his
first on the PGA Tour in nine years -- Daly played even better in
his round of 64 that left him only two shots out of the lead.

"It's a great feeling," Daly said. "I really didn't mis-hit a
golf shot."

He wasn't alone on a cool, overcast day off Sunset Boulevard,
where the average score was 69.76. Tiger Woods shot a 66 and didn't
make up any ground, heading into the weekend eight shots behind
Weir and Maruyama.

Maruyama, a member at Riviera, was only hopeful of making the
cut and wound up with a 66. He and Weir were at 12-under 130, tying
the 36-hole record set by Davis Love III in 1992.

Scott McCarron (65) and Briny Baird (62) were another shot back.

Daly also tied a record -- most trips to the media center in one
week.

He was as entertaining in 20 minutes with reporters as he was on
the golf course.

Among the latest revelations:

-- He has lost 47 pounds since the start of the year. "I just
went nuts at Christmas, ate everything in sight," he said.

-- He still hates flying commercial. "You pay for gas and hope
you get there," he said.

-- He drives his customized motor home around the country, with
three 42-inch plasma TVs.

-- Golfweek magazine reported that Daly is paying $20,000 a month
to two ex-wives for alimony and child support.

Weir came into the room and jokingly sat on Daly's lap.
McCarron, who didn't play last week, was supposed to go skiing on
Sunday until he saw Daly in the lead at Torrey Pines.

"I canceled my ski trip to stay and watch the golf
tournament," McCarron said. "John Daly means a lot to golf, and I
just hope he keeps going the way he's going now, because he's
playing some great golf."

Weir isn't doing too badly, either.

He saved his round with a 40-foot par putt on No. 8 and, despite
missing birdie chances on Nos. 10 and 11, played the toughest holes
with ease.

Weir used to show up at Riviera and go home for the weekend.
That all changed last year, when he got into a playoff with Charles
Howell III and won on the second extra hole.

"I seem to have figured this course out," said Weir, who now
has shot his last five rounds in the 60s at Riviera.

Woods got his act together, too, driving the ball better than he
has in a while. Woods started the second round below the cut line,
but removed any drama about making his 117th consecutive cut with
two birdies on his final three holes that put him in a large group
at 4-under 138.

"I might even lose ground," Woods said when he finished.
"Just seeing 20-odd guys at 4 under or better for the day ... I
didn't think the golf course was playing that easy, but evidently
it is."

While some of the names atop the leaderboard are familiar, the
scoring wasn't.

Riviera is one of the toughest tracks on tour because of its
small greens with deceptive breaks. Weir and Howell finished at
9-under 275. The cut this year -- 1-under 141 -- is five shots lower
than last year.

"I didn't expect to be 12 under after two days," Weir said.
"As you can see, the numbers are out there."

It was shaping up to be a fascinating weekend.

Weir has a chance to become the first repeat winner at Riviera
since Hogan won three times in 1947-48, one of those coming in the
U.S. Open.

The Canadian is a huge Hogan fan, having read his books and
studied his swing.

Everyone, though, seems to be a Daly fan. He kept the gallery in
suspense over every shot and every putt, and the cheers resounded
across Riviera. The loudest of the day came on his 8-iron to the
par-3 sixth, which landed on a slight ridge and rolled to within 15
inches of the cup.

The ups-and-downs in his life are fascinating, and his golf is
heading that direction. Daly doesn't mind the constant attention on
the ex-wives, his occasional weight problems, the tales of drinking
and gambling. Any other athlete might get heckling. Daly gets
nothing but love.

"I just want to do good," he said. "My goal is not to make
the same stupid mistakes that I made, and not trust some of the
people that I've trusted in the past. It's life. You learn. You
live and learn.

"Its just taken me a lot longer than most people."

Daly is liven' large at Riviera, only two shots out of the lead
and plenty of possibilities awaiting on the weekend.

^Divots:@ Vijay Singh had a 1-under 70 and appeared safe to make the
cut on the number. Singh missed the cut last week at Torrey Pines,
ending his streak of 12 consecutive top 10s on the PGA Tour. He
left without comment. ... David Toms, playing for the first time
since wrist surgery, had another 71 and was at even-par 142. ...
Woods hit his drive in the right rough on No. 11, and as he walked
down the fairway, fans applauded him for a great shot. They were
looking at a ball that was about 350 yards in the middle of the
fairway -- struck from the adjacent practice range. "That's not my
ball," Woods finally told them. ... The best-bounce round belonged to
Darren Clarke, who followed his 82 with a 68. He still missed the
cut. Olin Browne followed his 79 with a 69. ... Carl Pettersson made
an ace on No. 14, but it was one day too soon. The tournament is
awarding a sports car to the first player with an ace on that hole
-- on the weekend.