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Langham’s Record Tops Doral Open

March 4, 2000

MIAMI (AP) _ Of the four records either broken or tied in the second round of the Doral-Ryder Open, Franklin Langham’s might have been the most meaningful.

His 36-hole score of 129 not only was the lowest in the 39-year history of the tournament, it gave him a three-stroke lead going into today’s third round _ and a chance to win for the first time on the PGA Tour.

``You have to play good golf and put yourself in position to win,″ he said Friday. ``That’s what I’m trying to do.″

Good golf comes and goes. Good scores _ make that great scores _ were in abundance on a Blue Monster course that has been left defenseless after two days of virtually no wind in south Florida.

Langham made eight birdies in a 10-hole stretch for a 9-under 63, only the third best score on a day in which 103 players broke par. Still, it gave him a cushion over Stephen Ames, Shigeki Maruyama, Jim Furyk and Vijay Singh.

Ames, who almost withdrew when his 3-year-old son was hospitalized with pneumonia on Wednesday, broke the Blue Monster record with a bogey-free 61.

``I didn’t think 59,″ he said. ``I was thinking 62, because I knew in the back of my mind that 62 was the course record.″

Edward Fryatt had no clue what the PGA Tour record was for consecutive birdies, or who held it. But his name goes in the books with three others after he made eight straight during his round of 10-under 62, which still left him eight strokes back.

``It was really eerie out there,″ said Fryatt, who joins Dewey Arnett (1987), Fuzzy Zoeller (1976) and Bob Goalby (1961) as the only other players to make eight straight birdies.

``I felt like a guy tossing a no-hitter. Nobody was talking to me.″

The cut was at 3-under 141, the lowest ever at Doral. Among those hanging around for the weekend is Erik Compton, the 20-year-old redshirt freshman at Georgia and the first heart-transplant recipient to compete on tour.

All of them will have to catch Langham, whose 129 shattered the previous 36-hole mark at Doral of 133 set in 1993 by Paul Azinger and Greg Norman. It also was the lowest halfway score on tour since a 126 by David Frost in the St. Jude Classic last year.

Langham, 31, who was born in Augusta, Ga., and used to work the scoreboard on the 16th hole during the Masters, has never won on tour, or even led after 36 holes. He’s pointed in the right direction, however, considering he was tied for the first-round lead at Doral a year ago and shot a 76 in the second round.

He was 13 strokes better this year, which he attributes to pristine conditions and more confidence.

``I know I can play out here now,″ Langham said. ``I’m like everyone else. I want to win a golf tournament.″

There is still much work left.

Lurking at 135 is David Duval, who gained more momentum with his putter in a round of 64, and Ernie Els, who had a 68 despite a bogey on the 18th.

``So many people can win,″ Langham said. ``I’m just happy I have a chance.″

Only three weeks ago, Maruyama was tied for the lead after two rounds in the Buick Invitational, where Tiger Woods was going for his seventh straight PGA Tour victory. Asked if he could be the one to end the streak, the Japanese star replied, ``No chance.″

Friday was another matter.

``Tiger is not here, so there is a possibility,″ he said through his interpreter.

He proved to be a pacesetter for Ames, who spent the entire round trying to catch Maruyama and finally did with birdies on the last two holes. When Ames added it all up, he signed for a 61 to break the Blue Monster record.

The previous mark was 62 _ twice by Greg Norman (1990 and `93) and last done by Furyk in the second round of 1998.

``Imagine shooting 67 here and feeling like you got left behind,″ Ames said.

Ames could have gone even lower. His 3-iron into the par-5 eighth nearly went in for double eagle, and he missed the 4-foot eagle putt coming back. He also missed birdie putts of 3 and 8 feet, but Ames didn’t forget about the three 30-footers he made.

``That’s golf, isn’t it?″ he said.

It was a new kind of golf for Doral.

Furyk’s previous record of 62 came on a course redesigned by Raymond Floyd, who was instructed to put teeth into the monster and did so by putting in a bunch of sand.

On Friday, the wind was next to nothing _ palm fronds only seemed to move when jets took off from Miami International Airport. And Floyd, whose changes were softened to ease player complaints, was smiling as he looked at the low scores.

``It’s too easy for this golf tournament,″ he said. ``The teeth have been taken out.″

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