Appleby Maintains Lead in Houston

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2006 Shell Houston OpenHUMBLE, Texas -- Stuart Appleby says the new Tournament Course at Redstone is easy. Or maybe he's just playing well enough to make it that way.
 
Appleby had a one-stroke lead over Greg Owen after two rounds at the Shell Houston Open. Appleby had five birdies through 16 holes Friday before the rain-delayed second round was suspended by darkness. He made two pars Saturday morning to finish with a 67.
 
Trevor Immelman
Trevor Immelman is in search of his first career PGA TOUR win.
Appleby hit 11 of 14 fairways and 17 of 18 greens in regulation in his second round.
 
'You put it in the fairway, the game becomes a lot easier,' said Appleby, who won in Houston in 1999. 'I drove it well, putted pretty good. Nothing fancy. Just good, solid golf.'
 
Appleby was one of 44 players who returned to the course early Saturday to finish their second rounds. A predawn storm on Friday dumped five-eighths of an inch of rain, delaying the start of the second round 2 1/2 hours.
 
Owen teed off late in the afternoon and birdied five of his last seven holes for a 65, the lowest score of the tournament. A month ago, a three-putt from 3 feet cost Owen a chance to win at Bay Hill. Owen talked to noted sports psychologist Bob Rotella shortly after the gaffe.
 
Rotella's advice?
 
'Concentrate on everything you did right,' Owen said. 'The majority of the things were all positive.'
 
The 34-year-old Englishman had plenty of those on Friday, too. He made a 3-foot birdie putt on 13, holed a bunker shot on the par-3 14th and finished the round with a bending 20-footer on the difficult 18th.
 
'I'm just trying to have a good time and I'm playing pretty well, which helps,' Owen said. 'Just trying to see the good shots more than the bad shots.'
 
Owen said the mistake at Bay Hill was a simple 'mental error' and hasn't lingered long in his mind. He saw no reason to make any major adjustments to his game.
 
'Some things happen in other weeks and you finish 20th,' he said, 'and (then) you feel like you're doing the same thing and you go and win a tournament. It just doesn't make sense. Not a lot in golf does, does it?'
 
South Africa's Trevor Immelman was 8 under after a 67.
 
The 26-year-old Immelman has missed the cut in his last four starts, but said his results don't reflect how well he's played.
 
'I would say frustration sums the whole thing up because I really felt like the whole year I've hit the ball quite well,' he said.
 
Tour rookie Charley Hoffman finished with a 67 on Saturday morning to join Jerry Smith and Mathias Gronberg at 7 under.
 
Gronberg shot a 69 on Friday, after a 68 in blustery conditions on Thursday. He was disappointed he didn't go lower in the second round.
 
'I'm amazed no one really shot lower than 5 under in the morning,' Gronberg said. 'It was really there to shoot a low score today. We had perfect conditions.'
 
Gronberg was flawless with his irons, hitting all 18 greens in regulation.
 
Australian Aaron Baddeley, who earned his first tour win at Hilton Head last week, was alone at 6 under.
 
Two-time defending champion Vijay Singh was 4 under after a 71 that included a double bogey.
 
Andrew Magee missed the cut at 2 over, but was happy just to play. Magee was competing for the first time since getting a 'golf ball-size' tumor and part of his kidney removed at the Cleveland Clinic in February.
 
'Except for making bogeys, everything feels pretty good,' Magee said.
 
The 43-year-old Magee will have an MRI in August to determine if he's cancer-free. So far, doctors have given him a clean bill of health and told him chemotherapy and radiation treatment weren't necessary.
 
'Most of the time, you hear about friends who go through a situation like that and they have a couple years left to live,' Magee said. 'This is a happy story.'
 
Divots:
Crowd favorite John Daly shot 31 on the front nine and a 41 on the back for a 72. Daly is 3 under for the tournament. ... Kevin Na and Ben Curtis withdrew. No reasons were given. ... Former PGA champion Rich Beem was in a hurry to leave the course after shooting a 69. He was rushing to pick up his new car, a silver convertible Mini Cooper with a souped-up engine. 'The thing is a rocket,' Beem said. 'It's a silver bullet.'
 
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