Jespers Double Eagle Sets Tone at Reno

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PGA Tour (75x100)RENO, Nev. -- Paul Azinger is stepping out from the television booth and onto the golf course.
 
I like TV'I dont love TV, Azinger said. I would rather be the action, not reporting the action.
 
Azinger, who has spent much of his season doing TV broadcasts, will get that chance starting Thursday at the Reno-Tahoe Open.
 
Azinger missed the cut by a stroke last week at Baltusrol'the eighth time hes failed to advance to the weekend in 15 events this year. He has 12 career tour victories with earnings of more than $13 million, but hasnt topped the $1 million mark since 2001 and last won at the 2000 Sony Open.
 
Ive wanted to play well for a while, but I think Im getting to the point that I kind of need to play better and thats a little more desperate, he said.
 
The top 50 in the world golf rankings'plus members of the last Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup teams and a handful of other qualifiers'are playing at the World Golf Championships-NEC Invitational.
 
That leaves Reno to host players such as Jerry Kelly, Jesper Parnevik, Jonathan Kaye, Tim Herron, Mark OMeara, Duffy Waldorf, Hank Kuehne, Justin Rose, hometown favorite Scott McCarron and a trio of past British Open champions in David Duval (2001), Ben Curtis (2003) and Todd Hamilton (2004).
 
Kelly is trying to get out of his worst slump in five years, but the local casinos have made him the favorite to win the $3 million tourney he nearly won in 2001 before a triple bogey down the stretch left him in second place.
 
Parnevik, making his debut in the event at Montreux Golf & Country Club, took a liking to the Jack Nicklaus-designed course after he holed a 310-yard shot for a double-eagle 2 on his last hole of Wednesdays practice round.
 
Kaye, the 2002 runner-up in a playoff, expects the tournament record of 17-under 271 that he shares to be broken this week.
 
Notah Begay III, who won the inaugural Reno-Tahoe Open, 2001 winner John Cook and Vaughn Taylor, last years champ, also are playing.
 
I think it could be our best field, said Fred Boyd, chairman of the tournaments foundation.
 
Taylor is the first to return to try to defend his title at Reno after failing to earn a spot in the NEC.
 
I still have people come up to me and tell me Good job in Reno last year. That means a lot, Taylor said. Even though the NEC is going on and its a bigger tournament, people still follow Reno.
 
Kaye lost the 2002 title in a playoff with Chris Riley.
 
A win here does the same thing a win there does. It gets you in the Mercedes Championship and gets you a two-year exemption, said Kaye, who has more than $9 million in career earnings, including more than $1 million this year.
 
Parnevik holed out from 310 yards with a 3-wood Wednesday for the double-eagle 2 on the 616-yard downhill 9th hole guarded by a pond on the right when his ball hit the hill on the front left edge of the fringe and rolled 35 feet mostly sideways before it plunked into the cup.
 
Ive been doing that all day, he jokingly told a few fans behind the green. Parnevik has five PGA wins'the last at the 2001 Honda Classic. He said he played well at the PGA last week despite a 75 on Sunday that dropped him to a tie for 28th at 4 over.
 
Last week, you just tried to make par pretty much every hole, Parnevik said. This week, youve got to try to birdie every hole so your mind-set has to be a little bit different.
 
Kelly, who topped the $2 million mark each of the past three years but is 72nd this season with $783,000, said he could care less about the sports books making him the favorite.
 
Ive had my worst year in a long time. Its the first prolonged slump Ive had in five years, he said.
 
Kelly was 5 under par playing in the last group Saturday at the PGA, but closed with a 74 and 76 to tie for 34th at 5 over.
 
Thats just the same thing that has been happening most of the year, he said. I havent put four rounds together. But it was good to do that under the conditions we had. It shows me my game is there.
 
Related links:
  • Scoring - Reno-Tahoe Open
  • Full Coverage - Reno-Tahoe Open
     
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