<
>

Leonard neared record round, then stumbled

FORT WORTH, Texas -- Justin Leonard looked as if he was on
his way to another record round at the Colonial. Then he stumbled
and had to settle for a share of the lead.

With a 6-under 64 Friday, Leonard ended the second round at
6-under 134 and as co-leader with fellow Texan J.L. Lewis.

Leonard, who had a closing 61 in last year's Colonial, was 7
under through 11 holes in the second round Friday. Then he had
consecutive bogeys.

Still, he managed to complete his lowest round of the season on
a day when wind gusts of up to 25 mph made for more Colonial-like
conditions.

"I've been struggling the last few months and showing signs of
playing well at times," Leonard said. "So to go out and shoot a
round like I did today, it feels pretty good. Hopefully, this is
the beginning of some good play."

The eight-time PGA winner has missed just one cut in 13
tournaments. But Leonard hasn't finished better than 25th since
tying for ninth at the FBR Open on Feb. 1.

First-round leader Craig Perks (71) overcame a 4-over start
through five holes and was within one stroke of the lead at 5-under
135.

"I gained a lot more confidence playing the way I did coming
back," said Perks, whose only PGA win was at the 2002 Players
Championship. "Yesterday, it was nearly too easy. Everything kind
of fell into place. Today, it was just a grind, every shot, every
hole."

Perks was tied with Robert Gamez (64), Jeff Maggert (69) and
Steve Flesch (69). Zach Johnson, Lee Janzen and Stewart Cink were
at 136.

After a front-side 31, Leonard chipped in from 28 feet for a
birdie on the 407-yard 10th hole. But that wasn't his best shot.

From the fairway at the 611-yard 11th, 267 yards from the pin,
Leonard hit a 2-iron. The ball landed just in front of the green,
then rolled up and slid just over the lip of the cup. He made the
6-foot eagle putt.

Even after just missing a rare double-eagle, Leonard wasn't
thinking about 61 or even a better score, like when Kenny Perry was
running away with last year's tournament.

"Last year, I was thinking 59 after about 15 holes," Leonard
said. "But 7 under through 11, I'm just getting into the toughest
part of the back nine. I wasn't focused on that. I'm just trying to
play one shot at a time."

Then came the bogeys. He three-putted on the 417-yard 12th and
just missed the green on the 171-yard 13th.

"That was disappointing, a little bit deflating," Leonard
said. "But then I made a good up-and-down on 14."

From the back of the No. 14 green, Leonard chipped to less than
4 feet. His last birdie came on a 22-foot putt at the 188-yard
16th.

Lewis took the lead with a bogey-free 66 in the morning,
matching his season low round.

"I hit the ball well from tee to green," said Lewis, who hit
15 of 18 greens and had no three-putts. "I made some pretty good
putts."

Lewis has just one top-10 finish this season, at the Bob Hope in
January. He has since missed five of 12 cuts, with only one finish
better than 25th.

Leonard was the only player who caught him. Phil Mickelson and
Carl Pettersson couldn't sustain their charges.

After an opening 71, Mickelson was 5 under with six birdies
through 11 holes Friday. The Masters champion, who missed his first
cut of the season last week, then three-putted at the par-3 13th
and had pars the rest of the way.

"It's a very tough course with the wind blowing the way it
is," said Mickelson, among seven golfers tied for 10th at 3 under.
"I only made two bogeys. I feel like that was an accomplishment."

Pettersson was at 6 under with a share of the lead after
starting his second nine with a 15-foot eagle putt on the 563-yard
No. 1. That came after three straight birdies at Nos. 15-17.

The Swede couldn't maintain the momentum, shooting 7 over with
two double bogeys his last seven holes. His 74 put him at 1-over
141 -- seven strokes off the lead.

Last week, Gamez was so frustrated with his game that he broke a
3-wood on the driving range at the Byron Nelson Championship, then
bent three more clubs over a chair in his room before the first
round.

Getting some good results on the course made him feel even
better.

"My attitude has been so bad on the golf course," Gamez said.
"I've been trying too hard out there, I haven't let myself just
play golf."

Until now. And it's paying off.

Gamez had six birdies over his last 11 holes, including a
20-footer to end his round.

Notes: Perry shot a second-round 71 for a two-round total of 138.
Perry is one of nine former Colonial champions who will play this
weekend. ... There were 74 golfers who made the cut, which was 3
over. ... Dean Wilson, who played last year with Annika Sorenstam,
had a second-round 74 and missed the cut at 11-over 151.