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Scherrer Opens on Tucson Field

February 26, 2000

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) _ Tom Scherrer has been down this road before. Just never this far.

Scherrer shot a 6-under-par 66 Friday in the Tucson Open for his first lead at the midpoint of a PGA Tour event. His two-day total of 13-under 131 put him two shots ahead of Tom Byrum and Mike Springer.

The prospect of playing in a final pairing on the weekend didn’t faze Scherrer, who was tied for first after the opening round in Hartford last year.

``I’m 29, almost 30,″ he said. ``I’ve got a baby boy. I’m past getting nervous about this stuff. I need to put some money in his college fund.″

Byrum tied this year’s best birdie streak on the way to a second-round 65, and Springer shot 66.

Ted Purdy and Jim Carter were paired at 134, with Kevin Sutherland, Len Mattiace, Ronnie Black, Greg Kraft and Steve Flesch four shots off the pace.

The group at 136 included former U.S. Open champion Steve Jones.

Two notable rookies were in a cluster at 137 _ Casey Martin, who sued the PGA to be allowed to ride a cart and rest his painful right leg, and Gary Nicklaus, the son of Jack Nicklaus. So were Jean Van de Velde and Kirk Triplett, who won last week in Los Angeles.

Seventy-two golfers made the cut at 142, but 1999 champion Gabriel Hjertstedt (146) and runner-up Tommy Armour III (150) got the weekend off. Hjerstedt had a second-round 75, and Armour, needing a low score, shot 77.

Craig Stadler, who has won 12 championships, and Corey Pavin, with 14 titles, also missed the cut. Stadler finished at 144 and Pavin at 146.

Scherrer is familiar with the feeling. He was a rookie in 1996, but lost his playing privileges after making just 12 cuts.

In 1998, Scherrer regained his card for his play on the Buy.com Tour, and kept it last year by finishing in the money in 20 of 29 events.

But he missed the first three cuts this year, and his best round until Tucson was a 67 last week in Los Angeles.

``This is probably one of the most consistent two days that I’ve had,″ Scherrer said.

He had his first eagle of the year on Thursday, and, after three birdies on the front nine, went to 11-under with an eagle on the 10th hole, a 501-yard par-5.

Scherrer’s drive carried over water, and his approach shot left him a 3-foot putt to make up two shots on par. He sank a 15-foot putt for birdie on No. 13 and an 18-footer on No. 17, then parred the difficult 18th hole to finish two days without a bogey.

Byrum was 1-under for the day until he birdied the first six holes on the back nine to match the birdie string Brent Geiberger had in the Bob Hope.

``I’ve had a few streaks, but I’m not sure it was more than six in a row,″ Byrum said.

Springer’s inaccuracy off the tee had him next-to-last on this year’s money list (182nd). He has been in the money just once in three tournaments, and that was a 69th in Hawaii.

But, like Scherrer, he overcame recent history with masterful iron shots and putting.

The longest of his six birdie putts was from 17 feet, and he hit the flag stick with a 6-iron shot on the 16th hole, sinking a 1-inch putt there.

``If I was driving the ball better, I’d be very confident right now,″ Springer said. ``I still don’t have the driving right, I’m hitting some skanky shots. But I won Milwaukee in ’94 playing just like I’m playing. I mean, I hit it terrible and putted the eyes out of it.″

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