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Star-Bulletin Sports


Friday, January 4, 2002


[MERCEDES CHAMPIONSHIPS]


art
ASSOCIATED PRESS
Canada's Mike Weir took a three-stroke lead after the first round of the Mercedes Championships in Kapalua, Maui.



Weir has rest of
field feeling weary

The Canadian shoots a 63 for a
3-shot lead going into the second
round of the Mercedes

Duval looks forward to 2002


By Paul Arnett
parnett@starbulletin.com

KAPALUA, Maui >> Mike Weir couldn't help himself.

After shooting a 29 yesterday on the front side of the Plantation Course, the first-round leader of the $4 million Mercedes Championships started thinking about breaking 60. The Brigham Young graduate had to settle for a 10-under 63 and a three-shot lead. But what might have been never escaped his mind.

"Absolutely, absolutely," Weir said, when asked if he thought of shooting a 59. His 63 not only tied David Duval's 1999 record for the best 18 holes but was the lowest opening round in Mercedes history. "I'm not going to say I didn't think about it. For sure, I did.

"I was feeling so good. I was 8-under through 10. Unfortunately, I felt like I let one get away at No. 5 (where he missed a three-footer for birdie). When I was on No. 10, I was like, 'Wow, could have been that little bit step closer to reaching that.' "

Weir continued to hit his irons well on the back side and had makeable birdie putts on 11, 12 and 14, only to let them slip by.

"Those three holes right there, I had inside of 8, 9 feet and missed them all," Weir said. "If I could have got one of those in ... "

Weir also missed a birdie on 16 from 8 feet, and a chip on No. 13 fell inches short. Still, Weir had the kind of day the other 31 members of this winners-only field dream about. Entering today's second round, Weir leads Frank Lickliter by three shots and five other golfers tied for third by four.

Included in that group are 1999 Mercedes champion David Duval and 2001 winner Jim Furyk, who needed a 10-foot par on No. 18 to stay close to the lead. The other three golfers who shot opening rounds of 67 on the par-73 course are Cameron Beckman, Chris DiMarco and Scott Verplank.

Tiger Woods and Kenny Perry are another shot back at 68, tied for eighth.

Woods just missed a birdie putt on No. 18 but believes he's still in the thick of it.

"Anybody within five shots or so still has a great chance," Woods said. "The winds stayed low in the morning, and Mike took advantage of that (he was in the first group off the tee). It picked up a little bit in the afternoon, but overall, the conditions were ripe for shooting a low number."

Weir took advantage of that from the start by birdieing the opening four holes. The Canadian was hitting the ball so well, none of the putts on the first four holes was longer than 6 feet. He birdied holes 8, 9 and 10 to build a huge early advantage that left many of his fellow professionals shaking their heads.

"I started the day some eight shots off the lead," said Furyk, who was in the final twosome of the day.

"You just have to shut that out of your mind and go out there and do the best you can. On a day like this, the Plantation Course can give up some low numbers."

Some 24 of the elite 32-man field broke par. Weir, Beckman and Joel Edwards had bogey-free rounds. Eight golfers managed eagles, including Davis Love III, who carded a 2 on the par-4 14th. Woods had two eagles, one on the par-5 fifth and another on the 15th.

Like Weir, Lickliter also had a string of birdies. He knocked in four in a row from 13 through 16, including a unique one on the par-5 15th.

"I drove it way down around the corner on that hole," Lickliter said. "I had a 2-iron in my hand. Hooked it into the hazard left, I mean way gone, deep. Went down, dropped it from 144 yards and holed out an 8-iron for my birdie. It was kind of cool."

Lickliter shot a 33 on the front and back nines. He was paired with Weir today in the final group. This is Lickliter's first year at Kapalua. Not a bad debut.

"It's a fun golf course," Lickliter said. "You know, you look up. It's gorgeous no matter where you are. I mean, it's spectacular. It's where I always wanted to be, you know, in the top part of golf. This is just one event, but this is a good one."



Mercedes Championships scores

Yesterday's results
At Kapalua, Hawaii
Purse: $4 million
Yardage: 7,263; Par 73 (36-37)
First round

Mike Weir 29-34 -- 63

Frank Lickliter II 33-33 -- 66

Cameron Beckman 32-35 -- 67

Chris DiMarco 33-34 -- 67

Scott Verplank 33-34 -- 67

David Duval 30-37 -- 67

Jim Furyk 33-34 -- 67

Kenny Perry 33-35 -- 68

Tiger Woods 33-35 -- 68

Joel Edwards 34-35 -- 69

Retief Goosen 33-36 -- 69

Robert Damron 33-36 -- 69

David Toms 34-35 -- 69

Davis Love III 34-35 -- 69

Justin Leonard 37-33 -- 70

Tom Pernice Jr. 36-34 -- 70

Bob Estes 33-37 -- 70

Scott McCarron 32-39 -- 71

Brad Faxon 38-33 -- 71

Steve Stricker 37-34 -- 71

John Cook 34-38 -- 72

Shigeki Maruyama 33-39 -- 72

Scott Hoch 37-35 -- 72

Mark Calcavecchia 36-36 -- 72

Sergio Garcia 33-40 -- 73

Joe Durant 35-38 -- 73

David Gossett 37-37 -- 74

Jeff Sluman 36-38 -- 74

Jesper Parnevik 38-36 -- 74

Robert Allenby 39-35 -- 74

Hal Sutton 36-39 -- 75

Garrett Willis 38-39 -- 77



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