Howell, Ames hold lead; play to resume Saturday


ORLANDO, Fla. - Charles Howell III and Stephen Ames got the best of both worlds Friday in the Bay Hill Invitational. They were among only 30 players to complete the second round, and they were atop the leaderboard.

On a day that felt like a marathon to some and a vacation to
others, Howell ended his long day with another short birdie putt
that gave him rounds of 71-68, giving him a share of the early

Ames also played 36 holes and posted the same scores. He birdied
five of six holes in one stretch, then finished with a 5-foot par
to join Howell at 5-under 139.

Vijay Singh, who can return to No. 1 in the world with a victory
this week, struck the ball flawlessly but couldn't make a putt. He
found a solution on the eighth hole by not having to putt -- the
Fijian holed out from 152 yards with a 9-iron and wound up with
rounds of 72 and 68, leaving him one shot behind.

"I just didn't make any putts all day," Singh said.

Their position won't be clear until the other 84 players finish
their rounds -- 37 of them, including Tiger Woods and Ernie Els, did
not tee off and could wind up playing 36 holes Saturday.

Joe Ogilvie wound up as the first-round leader, finishing with a
68 and then returning more than nine hours later to play the first
three holes of his second round. He birdied No. 3 and was at 5-under.

It all was caused by rain that washed out all but three hours on
Thursday, which kept Howell & Co. idle and left them quite busy on
Friday. The only other time Howell recalled playing 36 holes in one
day as a professional was at the Presidents Cup two years ago in
South Africa. When he played at Oklahoma State, 36-hole matches
were routine.

"I felt like I was in college again," Howell said. "I made
the turn (after the first round), they handed me a sandwich and
told me to keep going."

He lives only a mile down the street from Bay Hill, so Howell,
Ames and Singh can rest until Saturday afternoon.

Pat Perez, whose bad-boy personality took another hit last week
in the Honda Classic, had a 72-70 and was at 142 along with Briny Baird (69-73). NBC Sports chose not to show Perez in the final round of the Honda Classic because of obscene gestures he made after missing a putt.

Among others who finished were David Duval, who hit his first
tee shot out-of-bounds and struggled mightily at times with his
accuracy. He started with an 85 and ended with a 79, leaving him in
last place.

But at least he finished.

Four players withdrew after one round citing injury. Dudley Hart
had to stop after nine holes because of lingering back problems,
finishing his day with a 10 on the 18th hole after hitting two
balls into the water. Ryan Palmer was 15 over and had one hole to
go when darkness suspended play. He won't bother coming back.

And then there was Mark Hensby.

He was 9 over when he hooked his tee shot out of bounds and
didn't hit another shot, although the Aussie was kind enough to
walk with his group to keep their score and shake hands. Marking
his card in the trailer, he simply put an "X" under the 18th hole
and was disqualified for not finishing the round.

The gallery didn't see much of the marquee grouping -- Woods, Els
and U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen. They played 11 holes in
temperatures that hovered around 50 degrees, then headed to their
respective country clubs for the rest of the day. Woods lives at
Isleworth, Els and Goosen at Lake Nona.

Woods holed a 6-foot par putt on the 18th to avoid ending his
round with three straight bogeys. He figured that at least would
give him some positive vibes "going to my 7:10 tee time tonight."

Tour officials later decided that anyone whose tee time was
bumped beyond 6:30 p.m. should not return until 7:15 a.m. Saturday
to resume play.

Howell had seven consecutive rounds of 71 at Bay Hill, then
broke that bizarre streak with solid iron play. All his birdies
were inside 12 feet, including a 9-iron into 6 feet on his last

"I managed to get the ball a little closer," he said.

So did Ames, who made three straight birdies to get into the
hunt, then picked up more shots on the 16th and 17th holes to
become the only player so far to reach 6-under.

But that could change.

Woods, Els and others who got most of the day off will have
played their first two rounds in morning conditions, and the
weather is supposed to be warm sunshine Saturday, which could make
Bay Hill more vulnerable.

"Guys coming up tomorrow morning with good weather, they're
probably going to shoot lights out," Singh said. "I'm in good
position. Two days to go."