Ahern Eagles Way to Solo Lead


CARY, N.C. -- Jim Ahern eagled the 17th hole Saturday en route to a 5-under 67 and the second-round lead of the SAS Championship. He finished 36 holes at 12-under-par 132 and owns a three-shot lead over Walter Hall and Bobby Wadkins.
David Eger fired a 65 on Saturday and shares fourth place with Bruce Fleisher, who carded a 3-under 69 in the second round. The pair stands at 8-under-par 136.
Ahern shared the lead with D.A. Weibring after Friday's first round and the two battled for top spot on the leaderboard through most of Saturday's round. Each player was 1 under par on their round until Weibring drained a 20-foot birdie putt at the seventh to take a one-shot lead at 9 under par.
Ahern knotted the two in the lead at the 13th when he sank a 10-footer for birdie. He pulled one clear of Weibring at the 15th when Ahern rolled home another 10-footer to get to minus-10.
From this point, things fell apart quickly for Weibring and it was not all golf-related. He is already battling a neck injury and flu symptoms but on the 15th tee, Weibring appeared to have tweaked a rib injury.
'I'm a mess,' said Weibring.
Both players found the fairway at the reachable, par-5 17th at Prestonwood Country Club. Weibring over-cut his approach and wound up in the rough on the right side of the green. Ahern hit a spectacular 5-wood second shot that stopped eight feet from the stick.
Weibring bladed his chip from a bad lie and went through the green with his third shot. His fourth came out softer than Weibring thought it would and stopped 35 feet short of the hole. Weibring missed the putt short and tapped in for bogey.
Ahern's eagle putt fell into the hole and now he owned a three-shot lead over Hall and Wadkins, who were in the clubhouse. Weibring fell four off the pace and with a bogey at the 18th, he finished five behind Ahern after an even-par 72.
'It's important to get the ball in the fairway and make an aggressive shot into the green,' said Ahern, as play has been contested in lift, clean and place after Hurricane Isabel rolled through on Thursday. 'The course is still wet.'
Ahern will be in search of his second win of 2003 after he titled at the Music City Championship in Nashville in early May. He could join Tom Watson and Bruce Lietzke as the only multiple champions of the year.
'You have to keep an aggressive mindset,' said Ahern, who held the 54-hole lead of the final Champions Tour major, last month's Tradition. 'I was leading at Nashville and stayed aggressive. If I had a 10-shot lead, I might play safe.'
Hall birdied three holes in a row from the second and all from inside 12 feet. He added two more birdies around the turn but pulled a 6-iron at the 11th and made bogey.
Hall ran home a 20-foot birdie putt at the 15th and two-putted for birdie from the back fringe at 17 to polish off a round of 6-under 66.
'I played really good today,' said Hall, a North Carolina native and resident. 'It's nice to be playing good in the Carolinas. I try to play one shot at a time and one hole at a time. That's what I'll try to do tomorrow.'
Wadkins parred his first 11 holes before back-to-back birdies at 12 and 13. He parred the next three holes but got back into contention with his play down the stretch.
At the par-5 17th, Wadkins' 4-wood second shot found a greenside bunker, but he blasted out to two feet and kicked in the birdie putt. Wadkins knocked a 9-iron to 15 feet to set up birdie at the last and give the 52-year-old a round of 68.
'I like watching the scoreboard and seeing where I stand all times,' said Wadkins. 'Should be fun tomorrow. I like this course, it fits my eye and it's close to home.'
Weibring is tied with Wayne Levi (69) and Doug Tewell (69) at minus-7, followed by Allen Doyle (65), Andy Bean (66) and Tom Jenkins, who are tied for ninth place at 6-under-par 138.
Two-time defending champion Bruce Lietzke shot a second-round, 1-over 73 and is part of a group for 42nd place at even-par 144.
Related Links:
  • SAS Championship Leaderboard
  • Full Coverage - SAS Championship