Charles Howell III realized par would be an acceptable score at windy East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta and he did one better, posting a 69 yesterday for a one-stroke lead in the Tour Championship.
Howell finished with eight pars and was at 5-under 135 heading into the weekend, one stroke ahead of David Toms, Steve Lowery, Len Mattiace and Vijay Singh.
Howell, one of 10 players making his debut in the season-ending tournament for the top 30 on the money list, made bogey after hitting two of his best drives and didn't feel as though his score was as good as it could have been.
Then again, the swirling wind turned cooler as long shadows fell across East Lake, the greens began to dry out and got quicker on every hole and the 23-year-old knew that anything around par would be a good day at the office.
"Birdies are hard to come by," Howell said. "Every time I made a birdie, I tried to hang on as much as I could."
Despite consecutive bogeys at the turn, Tiger Woods finished with a 68 and was at 139, just four strokes out of the lead.
* PGA: Brad Elder shot a 5-under 67 to push his lead to two strokes after two rounds of the Southern Farm Bureau Classic in Madison, Miss. The 27-year-old made six birdies and an eagle to offset his three bogeys and was at 12-under 132 after two trips around the 7,199-yard Annandale Golf Club course. Defending champion Cameron Beckman used some strong long-distance putting to shoot a 68 and was one of five players tied for second.
* LPGA: Australian star Karrie Webb joined Annika Sorenstam and Se Ri Pak on the sidelines, losing her second-round match in the World Ladies Match Play Championship in Narita, Japan. South Korea's Grace Park, a two-time winner on the LPGA Tour, beat Webb, 1 up, in wet conditions on the Narita Golf Club course. A day earlier, Sorenstam and Pak lost their first-round matches.
"It was really tough out there with the rain," Park said. "I played a solid round. I didn't make a lot of birdies, but enough to win. I just tried to take advantage of Karrie's mistakes."