Ace Helps Baird Retain Lead


2005 Michelin Championship at Las VegasLAS VEGAS -- Briny Baird continues to lead the Michelin Championship at Las Vegas after shooting a 5-under 66 in Friday's second round.
Baird stands at 15-under-par 128 for the tournament, two strokes better than five players tied for second place. His 66 in the second round included a hole-in-one at the TPC at The Canyons course, one day after he fired a 10- under 62 at the TPC at Summerlin course to take the first round lead.
Briny Baird
Briny Baird is currently 132nd on the money list.
Paul Goydos and Shigeki Maruyama both shot 7-under 65s at Summerlin to reach 13-under-par 130. They are joined in second place by Bart Bryant (66), Kevin Stadler (66) and Ryan Moore (63), who all played The Canyons course Friday.
Harrison Frazar and Rod Pampling are tied for seventh place at minus-12, one stroke ahead of eight players knotted in ninth place. All in all, there are 18 players within five strokes of Baird heading into the weekend.
The third and fourth rounds will both be played at the par-72 Summerlin course.
The cut of minus-6 matched the lowest in the history of the PGA Tour in relation to par, and among those not making the cut was world No. 3 Phil Mickelson.
The highest-ranked player in the field this week, Mickelson shot a 1-under 71 at Summerlin in his second round and finished at 5 under par. He continues to sputter following his second major win at the PGA Championship in August.
Baird protected his overnight lead early with birdies on four of his first six holes at The Canyons. He dropped two strokes with bogeys at Nos. 9 and 10 -- his first bogeys of the tournament -- but got both back in one shot at the par-three 12th.
That's where the 33-year-old recorded the second hole-in-one of the tournament with a nine iron to reach minus-14.
The shot ended up being the difference between the overnight lead and a tie for first place for Baird, although he contends the 'lucky' stroke ended up nowhere near where he was aiming.
'I pulled it,' Baird admitted. 'I didn't mean to hit it all the way over there. You hit it to the right and everything kind of funnels to right to the hole. I pulled it and it went in.'
One more birdie at the 14th moved Baird to 15 under, where he remained after ending the round with four consecutive pars.
If he can hang on through the weekend, Baird would collect his first PGA Tour victory and first title of any kind since winning on the Nationwide Tour in 2000. He is currently 132nd on the money list and hasn't finished better than eighth place this year.
Among the players who share ninth place at minus-11 is world No. 9 Jim Furyk, who will be the highest-ranked player remaining in the field after Mickelson's exodus.
There are three players tied for 17th place one stroke further back -- among them is Justin Leonard -- and 12 share 20th place at minus-9.
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