Sun, May 23, 2004 - Page 24 News List

Gamez improves after busting up clubs

AP , FORT WORTH, TEXAS ANDNEW ROCHELLE, NEW YORK

Breaking a few clubs made Robert Gamez feel a lot better. Getting results on the course helped even more.

Gamez shot a 6-under 64 Friday when wind gusting to 40kph made for more Colonial-like conditions. His 5-under 135 total left him a stroke behind leaders Justin Leonard (64) and J.L. Lewis (66).

Last week, Gamez was so frustrated 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.

"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.

With six birdies in his last 11 holes, including a 20-footer at the 18th hole, Gamez matched Leonard for the low round of the day.

Gamez had missed the cut in six of 13 tournaments, and has finished better than 27th just once. His frustration boiled over last week.

"I realized I had been working so hard on my game," Gamez said. "I'd get on the range and I'd hit perfect shots. Everything is perfect, and I get on the course and go mental. I just told myself, this week, no matter what happens, I'm going to have a good time."

So far, so good.

Leonard was 7 under through 11 holes before consecutive bogeys. He still finished with his best round of the year and shared the lead with fellow Lewis.

First-round leader Craig Perks of New Zealand overcame a 4-over start through five holes and managed a 71 to tie Gamez, Jeff Maggert (69) and Steve Flesch (69) for third. Zach Johnson, Lee Janzen and Stewart Cink were at 136.

"I gained a lot more confidence playing the way I did coming back," said Perks, whose only PGA Tour win came in the 2002 Players Championship. "It was just a grind, every shot, every hole."

Leonard looked as if he was on his way to another record round at the Colonial, where had a closing 61 last year.

After a front-nine 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.

Sybase Classic

Becky Morgan just doesn't get to see as much of the golf course as everyone else.

When the 29-year-old Welsh player hits her driver off the tee it usually stays in the fairway, depriving her of seeing what the rough, or even worse, is like.

She rode another day of hitting the fairways to a 7-under 64 and a four-shot lead over South Korean duo Grace Park and Young-A Yang, and Amy Hung of Taiwan halfway through the Sybase Classic.

"I've always been a straight hitter and I'm trying to get more distance but being in the fairway is more important than another 10 yards," said Morgan, who had four of her seven birdies in a five-hole stretch starting with her sixth hole of the day.

Morgan led the LPGA Tour in driving accuracy last year at 83.4 percent and is second this year in that statistic, improving to 85.5 percent.

Distance is another matter for the North Carolina-Greensboro graduate. She was 126th last year at 242.7 yards, a number she has boosted this year to 244.4 yards, 122nd on tour.

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