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Texan Standing Tall

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For the second straight day, Jeff Maggert blistered Callaway Gardens' front nine. Then he made the turn. The winds changed, and so too did Maggert's movement on the Buick Challenge leaderboard.
 
Yet despite his back-nine struggles, Maggert managed to follow his opening 63 with a second-round 69. At 12-under, the Texan is five shots clear of six others, including David Duval and Paul Azinger.
 
Coming off his best round of the year, Maggert birdied four of his first six holes on the front nine, Friday. After four consecutive pars, Maggert picked up birdie No. 5 of the day at the par-5 11th to move seven strokes clear of the field at 14-under-par.
 
'I was trying to put some distance between me and the field,' Maggert said of his quick start. 'I was trying to get to 15-under.'
 
Maggert never reached his second-round goal. The two-time Tour winner parred the 13th, then bogeyed the par-4 14th after failing to get up and down from off the green.
 
Three more pars ensued before another missed green, just his third of the day, led to his second bogey of the tournament at the par-4 18th.
 
'I played steady today,' said Maggert. 'The wind picked up on the back nine, and it surprised me. I went from an aggressive mindset to trying to figure out the wind.
 
'But I'm in good shape. I'm playing awfully well. I'm pleased to have my game in shape where I can win some golf tournaments.
 
'We are only halfway there. I need to keep my focus.'
 
Golf hasn't been Maggert's primary focus as of late. This is just his second start in the past month. The 36-year-old was recently remarried; and he seems to be enjoying the home life with his three kids.
 
'I haven't been real focused on golf,' Maggert said on Thursday. 'There's a lot more things that are enjoyable than chasing a ball around 30 weeks of the year and living in a hotel room. It's an easy choice. I'm motivated at certain times of the year. For four or five weeks, I can play at a level of Tiger Woods and be that motivated.'
 
Maggert is in search of his first PGA Tour title since winning the million-dollar first-place prize at the 1999 Andersen Consulting World Match Play Championship. Should he prevail this week, it would be Maggert's third-career Tour triumph. The 10-year Tour veteran first entered the winner's circle at the 1993 WDW/Oldsmobile Classic.
 
Much like Maggert, Duval won early in the '99 season; and hasn't won since. Friday, Duval shot a three-birdie, no-bogey 69 to stay within reach of the lead. Playing his first event since a back injury forced him to withdraw from the International, Duval has carded only one bogey through two rounds - that came at the first hole in the first round.
 
Of the five players tied for second - Duval, Azinger, Cameron Beckman, Joe Durant and Carl Paulson - only Beckman (No. 158) is outside the top 125 in earnings.
 
Nick Price is among four players tied at 7-under-par. The Zimbabwean birdied four straight holes to begin the back nine en route to a day-two 68. Price shares his 8th-place spot with Scott Hoch, Brian Gay and former Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket Stewart Cink.
 
Last week's winner, Justin Leonard, will not be playing over the weekend. The Westin Texas Open champion shot rounds of 73-71 to miss the cut by one stroke.