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Sunday, January 25, 2004



[ MASTERCARD CHAMPIONSHIP ]


Tewell captures
lead on Big Island

He breaks a 36-hole
MasterCard record to
set the pace by two


KA'UPULEHU-KONA, HAWAII >> The golf course at the Hualalai Golf Club is here for the taking.

And boy, did Doug Tewell do just that yesterday.



MasterCard Championship

Yardage: 7,153; Par: 72
Second-round leaders
Doug Tewell 64-65--129
D.Eichelberger 66-65--131
Dana Quigley 67-65--132
Fuzzy Zoeller 67-65--132



Tewell fired a sizzling 7-under-par 65 on the 7,097-yard, par-72 layout in almost perfect conditions to set a 36-hole tournament record of 129 and grab a two-stroke lead in the $1.6 million MasterCard Championship.

"Somebody can shoot 9 or 10 under on this golf course ... in these conditions," said Tewell.

"You just don't know," he added. "You just go out and give it all you've got. I just played solid all week. I'm having fun, that's the main thing. And I'm right where I need to be."

Tewell wasn't the only one burning the greens.

Dave Eichelberger, defending champion Dana Quigley, Fuzzy Zoeller, Bruce Fleisher and Don Pooley all shot 65s.

And that put all of them on the first page of the leaderboard and gave them a shot at the $268,000 first-place check.

"It's a birdie contest out there with the conditions we have," said Eichelberger, who had seven birdies in a bogey-free round and is alone in second two shots behind Tewell. "Conditions are perfect. Birdies can be hard to make at times. I feel if you don't birdie the par-5s, you've lost a stroke to the field. I'm in a position to win. It's going to take 18-under, possibly 20-under, to win."

Quigley and Zoeller are tied for third, three shots behind Tewell, while Fleisher is in a four-way tie for fifth at 134 with Jack Nicklaus, Tom Purtzer and Gil Morgan.

Pooley's 65 moved him up to a tie for 12th at 136.

First-round leader James Mason finished at even-par 72 yesterday and is in a five-way tie for 16th.

"I say you need 6 (under) to have a chance tomorrow," Quigley said. "I'll be trying to birdie every hole. I won't try to get to 6, I'll try for more. But I'll take what the golf gods give me. And I'm hitting it better this year, right now, than last year. I feel better. A lot better."

Tewell will be the one everyone has to catch.

A seven-time winner since he joined the Champions Tour in 1999, Tewell got off to a great start when he sank a 15-footer for a birdie on the 397-yard, par-4 opening hole. He two-putted from 20 feet on No. 4, a 526-yard par-5, for another birdie and went to 3-under with another two-putt birdie on the 566-yard, par-5 10th. Back-to-back birdies on Nos. 13 and 14 got him to 5 under and he closed out with birdies on Nos. 16 and 18 for a two-shot lead.

"Some might say with a two-shot lead you have a little room to falter," said Tewell, who won four times on the PGA Tour. "But I don't think you have any room to falter."

Not with the likes of the group following him.

"The par-5s here are certainly reachable," said Fleisher, who has six birdies on the par-5s after two days. "And you'd like to be in a position where you have a shot at it."

And don't count Jack out.

Nicklaus offset two bogeys with six birdies and an eagle for a 66.

"It's a good round of golf," said the PGA Hall of Famer. "I played well in the Pro-Am here, played well on both days, and I played well yesterday and played well today. Don't ask me why. I certainly haven't played enough golf to fill a thimble.

"But one of these days I'm going to shoot my age," added Nicklaus, who turned 64 on Wednesday. "I do that I think I'll win.

"I don't know if I need it quite that low, but if I shot 64 and didn't win, I'll be pretty disappointed."

A 64 might be the number to shoot for.

But it's a number that anyone in the top 10 can accomplish -- especially if conditions are anything like yesterday's.

"If I shoot 10-under I should win," Tewell said. "But you know, in golf anything's possible. I don't think any lead is safe. You have to go out there and run like a scared rabbit."

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