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PGA Tour

Lonard's Near-Record Day Adds Spice to the Heritage

Associated Press
Friday, April 15, 2005; Page D06

Peter Lonard flirted with a 59 and finished with a two-stroke lead after yesterday's opening round of the Heritage in Hilton Head, S.C.

His 9-under-par 62 was one shot off the tournament record and brought some life to an event that doesn't have Masters champion Tiger Woods -- who beat Chris DiMarco in a playoff on Sunday -- and his Big Four buddies.

Peter Lonard hits out a waste area on the sixth hole at Harbour Town Golf Links. (Mary Ann Chastain - AP)

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Lonard's drama at the Heritage was some welcome flash for a tournament that looked like a big snore without Woods, Vijay Singh, Ernie Els and Phil Mickelson. Defending champion Stewart Cink, at No. 11 in the world, is the highest-ranked player in the field.

Lonard was two strokes ahead of Thomas Levet, who birdied six of his last eight holes to shoot a 64. Darren Clarke was at 65 with Patrick Sheehan a stroke back.

Lonard, a 37-year-old Australian in his fourth season on tour, didn't look capable of a landmark round after opening with a bogey. But he made 11 birdies over the next 15 holes to take the lead and briefly flirt with golf's magic number.

He was 10 under after a birdie on No. 16 and put his tee shot on the difficult par-3 17th, 15 feet from the pin. A birdie there would have let him go for 59 with a birdie on the famous closing lighthouse hole.

When Lonard walked onto the 17th tee, "I thought I've got to birdie the last two holes basically," he said. "Up until 17, I didn't really think about it at all."

Lonard came up a foot short on the tricky downhill putt to make the birdie and failed to join Al Geiberger, Chip Beck and David Duval in the only group of players to shoot 59 on the PGA Tour.

With the chase over, Lonard ended things with his second bogey on 18.

LPGA TOUR: Karrie Webb showed flashes of her former brilliance on and around the greens in a 7-under 65 for a share of the lead with Wendy Ward at the Takefuji Classic in Las Vegas.

Amateur In Bee Park, a 16-year-old high school junior in Las Vegas, shot a 66 that left her in a group one shot behind the co-leaders.

Wendy Doolan had consecutive eagles on her way to a 66. Catriona Matthew, who chipped in from the fringe for one birdie and holed a bunker shot for another, and Mi Hyun Kim also had 66s.

Annika Sorenstam, who has won five consecutive tournaments, is taking the week off.

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