'The course is nice,' said Choi's translator. 'He says the greens are in good condition so the course is helping his game today.'
Thursday saw four-time PGA Tour winner Dan Forsman use an early start to springboard into the lead. Playing his second round in the afternoon Forsman took sole possession of second by following up his opening round 65 with a 3 under-par 69 on Friday. Bryce Molder and Billy Andrade are tied for third, three strokes behind Choi. Twenty-five players are within four shots of 3rd place.
Choi joined the PGA Tour in 2000 and had a successful year last season with five top ten finishes. In 11 events this year Choi has finished in the top 10 three times, including each of his last two starts.
'He's never led in the United States, so it is a new experience,' Choi's interpreter said. 'But, if everything goes as today, he keeps the pace up and gets a better feel for the conditions, he thinks he has a very good shot this weekend.'
A medium to long driver, not known for his accuracy off the tee or with his irons, Choi has proven to be a capable putter. Hes 7th in the field in putts per green this week. The fifteenth hole has been particularly kind to Choi, who has eagled the par-5 each of the first two rounds.
Choi hasnt had much previous success in New Orleans. Hes broken 70 in the first round each of the three years he has played at the Compaq Classic, but hadnt broken par in round after the first until today. Choi, the first Korean golfer to earn a PGA Tour card, was in second place at the end of the first round in 2000 before settling for in a tie for 74th He missed the cut last year.
Forsman, 43, is in his best position at the midway point in four years. The veteran began and ended his opening nine with bogeys, but birdied two in between. He settled down after the turn and birdied his last hole of the day to close with a bogey-free 33. Still precise with his scoring clubs, Forsman is tied for second in putting this week and tied for eighth in greens in regulation.
'It's been a while,' said Forsman. 'I think I have a good
chance to play well this weekend because I'm putting well and striking the ball well.'
The pair at minus-8 are an interesting duo. Bryce Molder is the college sensation hoping to play his way on to the PGA Tour this year. Hes tied for third in greens in regulation this week and birdied four in a row before parring his final hole of the day. Andrade had tremendous acclaim as a young player more than a decade ago after winning his first two titles in consecutive weeks. He has recently overhauled his swing under the guidance of Billy Harmon and won a career best $1,313,047 last year. He has two top-5 finishes already in 2002.
Choi and Forsman will be unable to explore the early conditions in round three. A happy byproduct of their morning work over the past two days is a date in the final group Saturday afternoon.