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Notes: Players eat up Aronimink, but praise for potential major venue

NEWTOWN SQUARE, Pa. – K.J. Choi didn’t get much of a chance to savor his course record at Aronimink.

At least he had a night to enjoy it.

Chris Kirk barely got an hour.

Choi’s 64 on Friday was matched or bested by seven other golfers a day later at the AT&T National. Nick Watney has the record after shooting an 8-under 62. Steve Marino and Kirk shot 63, and Rickie Fowler and Webb Simpson shot 64.

“I’m not the only one that’s shooting that number out there,” Marino said.

No, he sure wasn’t.

The greens were watered Friday night and pin placements on the softer course appeared more accessible. Watney wowed the fans with a 27 on the back nine, which helped place him atop the leaderboard with Fowler. His 62 tied a tournament record. The 27 is the lowest nine-hole score on the PGA Tour this season.

Kirk joked he never shot better than a 62, and that was playing some friendly rounds with friends. Kirk, whose top PGA Tour finish is a tie for second, knew as his round was nearing an end that he was nipping at Choi’s record.

He only knew what Aronimink’s record was because Choi shot a 6-under 64 to build a two-shot lead and set the mark.

“I didn’t know how he did that,” Kirk said. “I guess now I know.”

Kirk, a rookie, enters Sunday only three strokes back of the co-leaders.

“It’s more about getting myself into contention,” he said. “But that’s a nice little bonus, I guess.”

The catch, of course, is that this is only the second year of the AT&T National at Aronimink Golf Club.

By the time Fowler teed off later in the day, the low scores had become the norm. He kept it going with a 30 on the front nine and a 34 on the back.

“It’s definitely nice to see those scores,” he said. “It gives you the ability to kind of go into the round with some confidence knowing there’s a good number out there.”

Kevin Stadler shot a 64 but was stuck in 14th place.

“I don’t want to say it’s easy,” he said. “On this course, if you hit it well, you’re going to have a lot of chances.”

Webb Simpson shot a 64 and tied for fourth. Cameron Tringale also shot a 64.

Could Sunday bring more record-setters? The golfers on the leaderboard agreed the course probably won’t be watered. Plus, the threat of thunderstorms Sunday has moved up the final round by 2 hours to 9:30 a.m.

“I definitely think they’re going to set it up a little tougher,” Fowler said. “I think they want someone to earn the win.”

MAJOR SUCCESS: Aronimink Golf Club has one more day left on the PGA Tour before it goes away – but maybe not forever.

The course was again widely praised by several players, and they’ve made their pitch for the club to host a major.

But it could be at least a decade, at least, before there’s room on the schedule. And there’s little chance the club could become a regular tour stop because the schedule is packed with multi-year commitments.

The AT&T National had a two-year run at the course just outside Philadelphia because the Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md., was prepping for the 2011 U.S. Open. It returns there next year, leaving a hole in Philadelphia’s golf scene.

The U.S Open will be held in 2013 at Merion Golf Club.

And then?

The club proved it can handle the traffic and crowd demands. Saturday’s gallery thinned out compared to last year, but Tiger Woods pulled out of this weekend’s stop because of injuries. It was still a strong showing, and the record scores made the course a hit with the golfers.

“This is one of the better ones that we play all year,” said Chris Kirk, who shot a 7-under 63. “I think every other player will agree with that. It’s just a great golf course. It tests every part of your game. It’s not the type of course that I have typically fared well on.”

CHIP SHOTS: Charlie Wi saw his streak of 204 consecutive holes without a three-putt or worse end when he 4-putted the 13th hole. … Three of the top-five leaders (Rickie Fowler, Steve Marino, Webb Simpson) have not won on the PGA Tour. … Fowler missed the cut last year at the AT&T National. … Vijay Singh pulled out with a back injury, leaving Spencer Levin to play as a single.