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Chamblee Holds 1-Shot Lead in Buick

August 8, 1998

GRAND BLANC, Mich. (AP) _ It isn’t all that unusual for unknowns to be leading at Warwick Hills Golf & Country Club. In fact, regulars have come to expect it.

So everything appeared perfectly normal as Brandel Chamblee, seeking his first victory on the PGA Tour, grabbed a 1-stroke lead over rookie Kent Jones after the second round of the Buick Open on Friday.

Chamblee, with the aid of an eagle on the par-5 seventh, shot 4-under-par 68 for an 11-under 133. Jones shot 67 for a 134 total.

Dudley Hart (69) and Phil Blackmar (68) were third at 135. Defending champion Vijay Singh (70) was tied with Steve Stricker (67) at 136 heading into the third round today.

Tiger Woods, using Warwick Hills as a tuneup for the PGA Championship next week at Redmond, Wash., shot 68 for 6-under 138.

It would not be a huge surprise if Chamblee should hang on for the win. Many golfers have tasted victory for the first time at Grand Blanc, about an hour north of Detroit.

The Buick Open was the first PGA Tour victory for Tom Weiskopf in 1968, Peter Jacobsen in 1980, Dennis Watson in 1984, Ken Green in 1985 and Justin Leonard in 1996.

The Buick Open also was the first and only win for Bobby Cole, Jack Newton, Robert Wrenn and Woody Austin. Wrenn, now an ESPN analyst, won with a 26-under 262 in 1987 _ still the tournament record and just one stroke higher than the lowest score in PGA history.

There have been a lot of greats in the winner’s circle at Warwick Hills, too. Billy Casper, Jack Burke, Julius Boros, Hale Irwin, Ben Crenshaw and Fred Couples all have won here.

Each of the first two rounds were delayed 30 minutes because of overnight thunderstorms that left Warwick Hills Golf & Country Club almost flooded in some areas. Workers used squeegees to push water off the greens early Friday, but some standing water remained in spots around the 7,105-yard course.

Because of the softened conditions, players were allowed to lift, clean and replace shots in the fairways.

Chamblee, who shared the first-round lead with J.L. Lewis, used a driver and 3-wood to get within 82 yards of the pin at the par-5 seventh, a 584-yard hole.

``I had 82 yards to the pin, which was perfect because I hit my 60-degree wedge 84 yards,″ said Chamblee, who has failed to make a penny in three previous tries at Warwick Hills. ``I figured I’d hit it two yards past the hole and back it up. That’s exactly what it did, and it spun right back into the hole.

``It was pretty exciting, actually.″

Jones, who has missed the cut in three of his last four tournaments, rolled in birdie putts of 20 and 30 feet. He also hit a wedge within 18 inches of the cup, resulting in birdie at the par-5 16th.

``It’s been a tough season,″ Jones said. ``There have been a lot of frustrations the last couple of months. It’s been a learning experience, this being my first year.″

Hart hasn’t made a bogey through two rounds, but his three birdies in the second round were only half as many as he made in the first round.

``It’s real wet,″ said Hart, who could use a hefty check to pay for the wedding gifts he gave his bride, Suzanne, two weeks ago. ``There’s a lot more standing water than yesterday.

``The greens are very soft, but they are still rolling well. I’m surprised how good they are.″

Lewis, starting on No. 10, bogeyed three of the last four holes on the homeward nine and struggled to a 4-over 76 for 141.

Leonard and John Huston both had 70s for 143, the same as Brian Watts (72). All three missed the cut by one stroke. Tevor Dodds (74) and Brad Faxon (72) also missed the cut at 145.

DIVOTS: In 1967, Julios Boros shot 72-72 in the first two rounds on his way to winning the Buick Open. This year his son, Guy, had identical scores and missed the cut by two strokes. ... First-round co-leader J.L. Lewis is from Texas, where he once was the pro at the nine-hole course owned by country singer Willie Nelson. The initials, by the way, stand for John Lee. ... Skip Kendall had 18 pars in the second round for 2-under 142. ... Frank Lickliter, who opened with a 73, was disqualified for turning in an incorrect card after the second round.

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