Singh Leads Clarke in Houston


In two weeks, Vijay Singh could enter the Masters winless on the PGA Tour since his 2000 triumph at Augusta National. Hes hoping it doesnt come to that.
Singh shot 7-under-par 65 to grab a two-shot lead over Darren Clarke midway through the Shell Houston Open. Singh stands at 12-under 132. Clarke also shot 65 to move to minus 10.
J.P. Hayes shot 68 and is three back at 9-under. Geoff Ogilvy (65) and Brandt Jobe (66) are four off the pace.
Singh got off to a great start Friday, birdieing the first and fifth holes. He then reeled off three straight birdies starting at the eighth. At the par-3 16th, Singh hit his tee shot on the 175-yard hole into the greenside bunker, some 50 feet from the cup. He holed the sand shot to move one shot ahead of Clarke, and then moved two clear with a 12-foot birdie at the last.
I just tried to get it close to the hole and it went in, Singh said of the hole out. Just one of those things.
Clarke fired his career best round in the States Friday. The burly Northern Irishman is technically a winner on the PGA Tour, having defeated Tiger Woods in the 2000 World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship. But its been quite a while since a full-time European Tour player won a regular event in the U.S.
Over the past five seasons, Sergio Garcia, Jose Maria Olazabal and Jesper Parnevik have entered the Stateside winners circle; though, they were PGA Tour members at the times of their victories. Others, such as Retief Goosen and Paul Lawrie, won major championships.
But no full-time European Tour player, since Lee Westwood in 1998, has won a regular PGA Tour stop.
Westwood ' Clarkes good friend and stablemate ' captured the 98 Compaq Classic. Coincidentally, he did so just prior to the Masters Tournament (which is two weeks away).
Clarke, an eight-time winner in Europe, hasnt fared well on this side of the pond in 2002. He missed the cut in the Nissan Open and at last weeks Players Championship. He also lost in the first round, 2-and-1 to Matt Gogel, in the Match Play Championship.
Friday was an entirely different story. Under relatively benign conditions, the 33-year-old made eight birdies and one bogey at the TPC at The Woodlands. The score was, by a shot, his lowest round on the PGA Tour; however, he has twice shot 60 on his native tour.
Full-field scores from the Shell Houston Open