Watson Among Clubhouse Leaders

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2006 Ford Senior Players ChampionshipDEARBORN, Mich. -- Champions Tour rookie Joe Ozaki carded a record-tying eight consecutive birdies and held a one-shot lead when the second round of the Senior Players Championship was suspended Friday due to inclement weather.
 
Ozaki, 50, birdied Nos. 2 through 9 at the TPC of Michigan to tie the tour record for longest birdie streak, last carded by Dana Quigley at the 2005 Bruno's Memorial Classic. Ozaki stood at 9 under par through 12 holes when thunderstorms moved into the area.
 
Joe Ozaki
Joe Ozaki had a 28 on the front nine to surge up the leaderboard.
Six players -- Tom Watson, Don Pooley, Gil Morgan, Jerry Pate, David Edwards and Mike Reid -- shared the clubhouse lead at 8-under-par 136 when the horn sounded.
 
Pate carded a bogey-free, 7-under 65 in his second round to jump from a tie for 34th place overnight into a share of the clubhouse lead. It matched the low score of the tournament so far.
 
'It could have easily been a 61 or 59 if I had a really strong putting day,' Pate said. 'But I missed several short, key putts that potentially would have changed my round.'
 
Pooley, Morgan and Reid each shot matching 6-under 66s on Friday, while Watson and Edwards both shot 67.
 
But the developing story of the day was Ozaki's run.
 
When Quigley carded his streak of eight straight birdies, it came during the opening round at the '05 Bruno's Memorial Classic. But last year's leading money winner could only parlay the terrific opening into a fifth-place finish.
 
Ozaki is hoping for a better result this weekend -- maybe his first-ever title on either the PGA TOUR or Champions Tour.
 
A 35-time Japan Golf Tour champion, Ozaki placed third at Q-school last year and collected his best finish on the Champions Tour when he tied for 31st at the Senior PGA Championship in May.
 
Friday, Ozaki started in a tie for 34th place and began making up ground early when he kickstarted his streak with a chip-in birdie at the par-4 second hole.
 
Ozaki later wrapped up his birdie stretch with some memorable shots: an approach shot he landed within 18 inches at the par-5 seventh; a 30-foot birdie putt at the par-3 eighth; and a 12-footer at the par-4 ninth to tie Quigley's mark.
 
Ozaki added another birdie at the par-4 11th, moving to 10 under for a two-stroke lead, but he gave that shot back at the par-3 12th during a rare lapse in concentration when he lipped out an 18-inch par putt.
 
The horn sounded for a weather delay moments later with Ozaki on the 13th hole.
 
Low scores over the first two days -- 58 of 78 players were even-par or better in the first round -- have been necessitated by the moist conditions.
 
'It's playing easy, the golf course, because it's so wet the ball is not bounding through the fairways and the doglegs,' Watson said. 'If you land on the fairway it stays there. Same thing on the greens.'
 
First round co-leaders Fuzzy Zoeller and Ron Streck had trouble keeping pace on Friday, as both were tied for eighth place when play was suspended.
 
Zoeller finished an even-par 72 before the horn, while Streck stood at minus-7 through 13 holes.
 
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - Ford Senior Players Championship
  • Full Coverage - Ford Senior Players Championship