Sun, Jan 23, 2005 - Page 23 News List

Lehman emerges from fog in the lead

PGA TOUR In the Buick Invitational, Tom Lehman was at 15-under 129, tying the record set by Lennie Clements in 1996. Peter Lonard of Australia was at 12 under par

AP , SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIAAP, KAUPULEHU-KONA, HAWAIIAP, DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA

US Ryder Cup captain Tom Lehman returned from a three-hour fog delay and shot 5-under 67 at the Buick Invitational on Friday to lead after two rounds and match the 36-hole record.

How big that lead was remained to be seen.

Lehman was at 15-under 129, tying the record set by Lennie Clements in 1996.

Peter Lonard of Australia was at 12 under par and playing his final hole on the par-5 ninth hole on the North course at Torrey Pines when the second round was suspended by darkness.

Tiger Woods also shot himself into contention, making three birdies in four holes after the fog delay. He was at 11 under on the North course, facing the reachable par-5 18th.

They were among 59 players who had to return at 7:30am Saturday to complete the second round.

Lehman easily handled the difficult South course, site of the 2008 US Open, by finishing his round with four straight birdies. He closed with six straight birdies on the North course on Thursday.

"I felt the fog delay actually worked in my favor," Lehman said. "I was struggling a bit with my swing, and I went to the range and hit balls for an hour and a half, and felt like I got my rhythm back."

However, Lehman has struggled to close out tournaments, and not won since the 2000 Phoenix Open. He ended last year by playing in the final group in three straight tournaments, failing to win.

"I think your good golf comes when you're not thinking about the results," Lehman said. "You're just thinking about executing. I think I made 19 birdies in 36 holes. That's without question a personal best for me."

But he looks stronger than ever, and really showed his stuff to anyone who could see in the fog.

He got up-and-down from the bunker on the par-5 sixth, then made a 3m putt for birdie on the seventh and was cruising along on what appeared to be another brilliant day along the cliffs over the Pacific Ocean.

The fog came out of nowhere.

"I was on the 12th tee when they blew the horn," Chris Smith said. "Thirty seconds later, I couldn't see the green."

Fog quickly engulfed Torrey Pines, with the visibility down to about 150m. The second round was suspended more than three hours, and most players figured they were done for the day.

Mark Calcavecchia sure was. He was at 6 over, with no chance to make the cut, and stuck on his final hole when he decided to withdraw. Ditto for David Duval, who was 10 over with five holes to play, stuck around for a few hours then decided to head home to Denver.

Six players withdrew, and only 91 players finished the second round.

Kevin Sutherland got the worst end of the fog delay. He was on the 18th tee on the North course, first to hit, when he realized he didn't have a tee in his pocket. By the time he went to his bag to get a tee, set up his ball and aligned himself for his tee shot, the siren sounded to suspended play.

The rules don't allow a player to finish a hole in that situation unless at least one player in the group had hit his tee shot. Sutherland had to wait three hours, then returned to make birdie on the par-5 18th with a two-putt from the fringe. He shot 66 and was at 10-under 134, along with Dudley Hart (69).

Luke Donald, who lost in a three-way playoff last year, had a 67 and was at 9-under 135.

Ernie Els was on par-3 16th on the South course when the fog suspended play. He had a 4-iron in his hand, but when he returned, the moist conditions forced him to use a 2-iron. He went into the bunker, made bogey, and had to hit a beautiful wedge that checked up next to the cup for a tap-in birdie on No. 18 for a 71.

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