Furyk slips into lead at Verizon

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HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. – Jim Furyk added his own touch to Harbour Town’s famous 18th hole Friday, rolling in a 56-foot birdie putt for a two-shot lead in the Verizon Heritage hours after Aaron Baddeley’s unlikely eagle there.

Putting from the back fringe, Furyk had simply hoped for a good lag and an easy par on the final hole. Instead, he watched his ball strike the flagstick and fall in. His 4-under 67 left him at 11 under, two strokes in front of Baddeley (67), Brian Gay (67), Duffy Waldorf (68) and first-round leader Vaughn Taylor (70).

Furyk’s long birdie also added to the Friday fireworks near the lighthouse hole.

Baddeley capped a late charge – he had three birdies and the eagle in his final five holes – at the magnificent seaside hole featuring Sea Pines’ red-and-white striped lighthouse as a backdrop.

Baddeley struck a smooth 8-iron about 160 yards that hit the green and bounced into the cup. The 25-year-old Australian heard the crowd’s cheers and wondered how close he’d gotten.

“When I got up there, the ball wasn’t anywhere to be seen,” Baddeley said.

The hole, crafted by architect Pete Dye along Calibogue Sound, has seen its share of amazing shots. Three years ago, Davis Love III chipped in a tying birdie on the 72nd hole, then struck the flag stick for a tap-in birdie during the playoff for his fifth Harbour Town title.

Tournament officials said Baddeley’s was the third eagle there since 1983. Lee Janzen accomplished it during the final round in 1997, then Mike Hulbert matched it in his second round two years later.

Furyk and Baddeley had similar second rounds – strong play early, bad mistakes in the middle and surges at the end.

For Furyk he had birdies on four of his first seven holes to take the lead. However, bogeys on the eight and ninth holes backed him into a tie with Baddeley.

“I wanted to hit good shots and put the ball on the green and stop the bleeding at that point,” Furyk said.

That’s what he did, moving in front again with a birdie on the 15th hole. After getting fooled by the wind on his last hole, Furyk said he “got a little extra bonus” with the long birdie.

Furyk has not won since last year’s Western Open. However, he tied for third in The Players Championship last month and likes the way he’s playing.

“I got in a little bit of a tough jam,” he said. “But it was nice to fight through it and keep it going.”

Baddeley moved within a shot of the lead with two birdies on his first five holes. He found problems on the par-4 eighth, knocking an approach out of bounds for a 7. A series of pars settled his nerves until his five-hole flourish at the end – Baddeley closed 2-4-3-3-2 on the scorecard.

Lynn takes the lead at the China Open

BEIJING – David Lynn of England had nine birdies for a 5-under par 67 Friday, taking a one-stroke lead after two rounds at the China Open.

Lynn had four consecutive birdies starting on the second hole and finished at 9-under 135.

“Tee to green I won’t say I’m at my best, but my putting has been nice,” Lynn said. “If I can keep that going, then it will be good.”

Marc Cayeux of Zimbabwe shot a 65 and was stroke back along with Jose Filipe Lima of Portugal (69) and Prayad Marksaeng of Thailand (67).

“Today the temperature was hot, I was hot, everything was hot today,” said Cayeux, who came down with a cold after shivering through the first round.

Scott Drummond of Scotland (67) and Rahil Gangjee of India (70) were two shots back, together with overnight leader Christian Cevaer of France (72).

Defending champion Paul Casey of England kept himself in contention with a 4-under 68 and trailed by four strokes.

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Ochoa eagles her way to Las Vegas lead

LAS VEGAS – Lorena Ochoa used a couple of fine shots with her 5-wood to set up two eagles and take the opening-round lead in the Takefuji Classic.

“I’m hitting the ball probably 10 yards farther than last year,” Ochoa said of her drives during the tournament’s opening day Thursday.

“So I know I can reach all the par-5s in two,” she said. “I made two eagles today and that was the big difference in my game.”

Her 9-under 63 gave her a two-shot lead over Shi Hyun Ahn, with defending champion Wendy Ward in a group tied for third at 67.

Ochoa knocked her 5-wood within 30 feet on the par-5, 504-yard No. 6 at the Las Vegas Country Club, then rolled in the long putt from the back fringe. Pulling the wood out of her bag again on No. 18, she hit within 12 feet of the pin and sank that putt.

Ochoa also had six birdies and one bogey – on the opening hole – as she moved to the top of the leaderboard.

In a way, the 24-year-old Ochoa, from Guadalajara, Mexico, picked up right where she left off last year at Las Vegas.

She finished the 2005 tournament on a roll that carried her into second place, finishing two shots behind Ward. Charging back into contention after an opening 74, Ochoa shot 63-65 the final two days.

“Last year, I felt really good. I enjoy playing here,” Ochoa said.

Said Ward: “I took a peek at the board on 17 and saw Lorena at 7 (under). She was chasing me (last year); now she’s passed me.”

Asked about her longer drives this year, Ochoa explained that she’s been working with weights more, and has improved her club head position at the top of her backswing.

A former University of Arizona star, Ochoa has won three titles and more than $3 million since joining the tour full-time in 2003. Although she has yet to win this year, she has finished second twice, including losing to Karrie Webb in a playoff in the first major of the season, the Kraft Nabisco Championship.

Ahn, a 21-year-old from Inchon, South Korea, finished tied for third with Paula Creamer in Las Vegas last year, one shot back of Ochoa.

Talking about her string of six birdies that began on No. 11 during the first round this time, Ahn said through said through a translator: “I wasn’t trying to make birdies. I was just trying to stay calm and focus and play shot by shot, and that made me more birdies.”

She made four putts from around 12 feet, one from 10 feet, and another from 9 feet during that run.

AP-ES-04-14-06 0330EDT

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