Sun, May 28, 2006 - Page 22 News List

Nirapathpongporn walks the talk

AP , CORNING, NEW YORKAP, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEEAP, AGADIR, MOROCCOAND JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA

Virada Nirapathongporn of Thailand ines up her putt on the ninth hole during the second round of the LPGA Corning Classic in Corning, New York, Friday.

PHOTO: AP

Virada Nirapathpongporn is a rookie. She sounds like a veteran.

"I'm back where I belong again," the 24-year-old Nirapathpongporn said Friday after taking the second-round lead at the LPGA Corning Classic. "I have been here before on the leaderboard and winning golf tournaments. I just have to go out with the belief in myself, believe in all the work that I've done, keep on moving forward."

The former Duke star, who won the 2002 NCAA title and 2003 US Women's Amateur, shot a 5-under 67 for a two-round total of 133, one shot better than Brandie Burton (68) and first-round co-leader Nancy Scranton (69).

Given her college and amateur success, Nirapathpongporn certainly is accustomed to being in the lead. But after an accident two months ago -- a resistance tube she used for stretching exercises snapped off a doorknob and struck her right eye, causing internal bleeding -- she was elated to be playing so well so quickly.

"I just learned a lot, not to take anything for granted," said Nirapathpongporn, who has three top-20 finishes this year. "If I ever have a chance, I take it. The injury taught me that. There's no holding back."

Darron Stiles grabbed a two-stroke lead with a 6-under 64 in the second round of the St. Jude Classic while winds gusted to 20mph for a second straight day.

Stiles turned in eight birdies with a double-bogey for a 133 total through 36 holes, giving him only his second lead on the US PGA Tour and his first by himself. He shared the first-round lead here in 2003 with Jay Haas and Richard Johnson.

French golfer Adrien Mork carded the first official 59 in the history of the European Tour during the Moroccan Classic Challenge Tour event on Friday.

"It feels like a dream to have done this. I do not think I fully realize yet what I have done. I feel great, but quite numb," Mork said.

The 26-year-old Mork's 12-under-par round gave him a 36-hole total of 122, 20 under par on the Golf du Soleil course in Agadir. He shot 63 in the first round.

His total beat by three strokes the record shared by Tiger Woods and Frankie Minoza of the Philippines as the lowest 36-hole aggregate on any of the European, Challenge and Senior Tours. It also beat Ernie Els' low 36-hole record of 18-under at the Heineken Classic in Melbourne in 2004.

WOODS OUT

Still coping with the death of his father, Tiger Woods decided on Friday to skip the Memorial Tournament for the first time, meaning he will be coming off the longest layoff in his career when he goes to the US Open.

Woods had until Friday to enter next week's Memorial, and tournament officials held out hope until the final minute.

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