Cameron Beckman made five birdies and an eagle yesterday to take the lead after two rounds at the International in Castle Rock, Colo., with 23 points, one ahead of Billy Mayfair, Charles Howell and Brandt Jobe.
Up today are rounds three and four, a grueling 36 holes amid the tall pines, thin air and steep hills at Castle Pines with a $900,000 first prize on the line.
"We're not out there hitting people and tackling people, but walking 36 holes on this golf course is not easy," Howell said. "I think it's just as important to physically stay strong as it is mentally."
Also in the hunt are David Toms, who scored 12 points to bring his total to 18; Retief Goosen, who scored 12 points to get to 17; and Phil Mickelson, who had a five-footer for eagle on 17 but three-putted to wind up with par. He scored 14 points to finish with 17.
"Tomorrow, you're going to see a lot of guys jumping up the leader board, some who aren't even on the leader board now," Mickelson said. "I love the format, and I'm going to try to make a run tomorrow."
Indeed, one factor that will add to today's challenge is that this tournament, using the modified Stableford scoring system, can change dramatically with one swing of a club.
Under the scoring system, players get eight points for a double eagle -- there have been three in the 20-year history of the tournament -- five for eagles, two for birdies, none for pars and lose one point for a bogey.
* CHAMPIONS TOUR: Tom Purtzer shot a 3-under-par 69 to take a three-stroke lead after two rounds of the 3M Championship at the TPC of the Twin Cities in Blaine, Minn.
Purtzer, who opened with a tournament record-tying 9-under 63, moved to 12-under 132 in chasing his second Champions Tour victory in 17 months.
Five players are tied for second at 9 under, including Lonnie Nielsen (68), Bruce Lietzke (71), Craig Stadler (67), David Eger (68) and Hajime Meshiai (66). Defending champion Tom Kite is in a five-player logjam at 8 under after a second-round 69.
* LPGA TOUR: Tournament host Annika Sorenstam birdied the last two holes for a 5-under 67, giving her a one-stroke lead after three rounds of the Scandinavian TPC in Loddekopinge, Sweden.
Sorenstam, the world's top-ranked player, was at 4-under 212, with Norway's Suzann Pettersen at 213 after a 69.
France's Gwladys Nocera, trying to win a spot on the team for next month's Solheim Cup at Crooked Stick in Indiana, was at 214 after three-putting the last hole for a 71. Natalie Gulbis, an American and the highest-ranked player in the field behind Sorenstam, shot a 69 for 215.
* WOMEN'S AMATEUR: Morgan Pressel and Venezuela's Maru Martinez won semifinal matches to reach the final round of the U.S. Women's Amateur Championship in Roswell, Ga. The finalists face 36 holes of match play today at Settindown Creek Course.