Leonard neared record round, then stumbled

Updated: May 21, 2004, 8:26 PM ET
Associated Press

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.


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press

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