Golf Paul Lawrie relied on stamina, and confidence from winning the British Open, to get through 35 holes yesterday and grab a share of the lead with Carlos Franco after two rounds of the NEC Invitational, in Akron, Ohio.

With most of the attention on Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia playing together for the first time in competition, Lawrie and Franco quietly worked their way up the leader board on a long, wet day at Firestone Country Club.

Lawrie played only his first tee shot in the $5 million World Golf Championship event before play was suspended by storms Thursday. He had a 3-under 67 in the morning, then followed with a 68 to head into the weekend at 135.

Franco, a two-time winner on the PGA Tour in this, his rookie season, played 31 holes and had rounds of 68 and 67.

Phil Mickelson, Hal Sutton and Nick Price were one stroke back at 136, in great position for each to try to win for the first time this year.

The NEC Invitational is only for Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup players, one of the most elite fields in golf this year.

That kind of exclusivity made it easy for Woods and Garcia to be paired together nearly two weeks after a thrilling Sunday in Medinah, Ill. in which Woods held on to beat the 19-year-old Spanish sensation by one stroke in the PGA Championship.

Woods, who finished off a 66 in the morning to lead after the first round, couldn't get anything going with his putter for a second-round 71.

Garcia was in under the trees, behind the trees, everywhere but inside one of the trees. He still managed an even-par 70 and was tied with Woods at 3 under.

"Neither of us played very well, but these things happen," Garcia said.

PGA: Ben Bates's sixth birdie of the round, an eight-footer on No. 18, capped a 6-under-par 66 and gave him a one-stroke lead over Danny Briggs halfway through the Reno-Tahoe Open.

Bates was at 9-under 135 after two trips around the 7,500-yard Montreux Golf & Country Club course in the shadow of the Sierra Nevada. Fourteen others were within four strokes of the lead entering the third round--including John Cook, Bob Tway, Stewart Cink, Woody Austin and David Toms, all at 6 under.

LPGA: Dottie Pepper set one tournament record and tied two with a 9-under-par 63 for a five-stroke lead at 14-under 130 in the second round of the Oldsmobile Classic in East Lansing, Mich.

Rookie Laura Philo was a distant second at 135 after a second-round 67 at Walnut Hills Country Club.

SENIORS: Hale Irwin overtook Larry Nelson with a second-round 65 in the $1.35 million Canadian Senior Open, in Ste-Julie, Quebec.

Irwin, who has five tour victories this year, posted a two-round total of 132 at the Richelieu Valley Golf Club. Nelson, who opened with a course-record 63 on Thursday, shot a 70 for 11-under 133.