Sun, Nov 14, 2004 - Page 22 News List

Diaz leads by 2 strokes

PROFESSIONAL GOLF TOUR Laura Diaz finished the second round at 11-under 133 and a two-shot lead at the Magnolia Grove's Crossings Course down in Mobile

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Laura Diaz tees off on the 15th hole during the second round of the LPGA Tour's Tournament of Champions at Magnoila Grove Golf Course in Mobile, Alabama, Friday. Diaz leads the tournament at 11 under par. Heather Daly-Donofrio was alone in second after a second-round 66.

PHOTO: AP

Laura Diaz closed with three birdies for a 5-under 67 to take a two-stroke lead after two rounds of the LPGA Tournament of Champions on Friday.

Diaz moved to 11-under 133 at the Magnolia Grove's Crossings Course. Heather Daly-Donofrio was alone in second after a second-round 66. Lorena Ochoa of Mexico had her second straight 68 and is tied with Christina Kim (70) at 136.

Diaz is No. 36 on the LPGA money list and needs a good showing to climb into the top 30 and qualify for next week's season-ending ADT Championship. She is US$33,923 behind No. 30 Stacy Prammanasudh, who is not playing in the Tournament of Champions.

"It was a good day today," Diaz said. "The course was soggy with all of the rain, but the greens crew did a good job of getting the course ready for us. With the greens soft, you just have to go out and be aggressive and keep shooting at the pins."

Diaz needs to finish at least fifth to have a chance to compete in the final event.

"I'm trying my hardest not to think about that," Diaz said. "I'm just trying to play the best golf I can, and if I play well and get to play next week, then great. It's an honor to be in the top 30 and play in that great tournament. My goal is to make the Hall of Fame and you do that by winning tournaments. I'm trying to keep it all in perspective. I've got 36 more holes to make birdies."

Daly-Donofrio, who is in the field only because tournament officials extended the eligibility criteria to winners from 2001, had her finest round since a career-low 65 in the first round of the Welch's Fry's Championship in March 2003.

Ochoa, who turns 23 on Monday and is playing in the event for the first time, set an LPGA record for birdies in season, making five in the second round to raise her total to 413. She broke the previous mark of 408 set by Maria Hjorth of Sweden in 1999.

Ochoa had set the single-season record for eagles, making one in the first round to give her 20 for the year.

Franklin Shootout

Justin Leonard and Steve Flesch combined for a 9-under 63 and a one-stroke lead over Hank Kuehne and Jeff Sluman after the first round of the Franklin Templeton Shootout on Friday.

Greg Norman and Scott McCarron had a 7-under 65 in the modified alternate-shot format, tied with John Daly and Rory Sabbatini.

Leonard and Flesch made six birdies on their first 10 holes and added birdies at 12, 14 and 17.

"Nobody was really under the gun off the tee box," Flesch said.

It was a true team effort for the leaders as Flesch made five birdie putts, including a 30-footer from just off the fringe at No. 12, and Leonard added four.

"I think we have a lot of similarities in our games," Flesch said. "Not to say that either one of us are short hitters, but neither one of us are bombers like John Daly or whoever."

Kuehne and Sluman got off to a fast start with four birdies on the front nine. They added two on the back nine. Norman, playing for the first time since re-injuring his back in August, was pleased with his performance.

The 12 two-man teams will play best ball on Saturday and a scramble in Sunday's final round.

Taiheiyo Masters

Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke fired a 5-under 67 Saturday to a take a four-stroke lead after the third round of the Japan Golf Tour's Taiheiyo Masters.

The European Ryder Cup star carded six birdies against a lone bogey on the Taiheiyo Club course and has an 18-under 198 total heading into today's final round.

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