Fred Couples, a proven winner who let a couple of victories slip away this year, and Len Mattiace, a non-winner in 107 PGA Tour events, were tied for the lead at 9-under-par 135 in Friday's rain-interrupted second round of the Memorial Tournament.
Harrison Frazar, a newcomer coming on like gangbusters, and Mark Calcavecchia were two strokes back as a talent-laden, jam-packed leaderboard promised a wild weekend of golf.An impressive pack of players were within four strokes of the leaders, including Tom Lehman at 138 and Ernie Els, Justin Leonard, Davis Love III and Steve Jones at 139.
"It's such a log jam," Couples said after shooting a 67. "If you go out and shoot 70 or 71 on Sunday you are not going to win."
It will likely take two more rounds in the 60s for someone to walk away with the $396,000 first prize.
The Memorial is known as much for its rain delays as for its golf. A thunderstorm stopped play for 21/2 hours Friday afternoon, the 14th time in 38 rounds over the past nine years that a round had been delayed, interrupted or canceled because of rain.
Trevor Dodds was on the course at seven under par, two strokes off the lead with one hole left when play was stopped. When play resumed he made a bogey on the final hole and finished at 138.
Tiger Woods, whose round included a double bogey when he needed two shots to get out of a bunker on No. 14, shot a 74 and was at even-par 144, nine strokes back.
Couples let the Masters slip away with a ball in the water on No. 13 in the last round and lost the Byron Nelson when he splashed a shot on No. 17 on Sunday, both times with errant 6-iron shots.
On Friday, he hit that 6-iron to 15 feet on the 182-yard eighth hole and made the putt for one of his seven birdies as he shot a 67 on a firm and fast Muirfield Village course.
"It's fun to play good again," said the 1992 Masters champion who picked up his 13th career victory at the Bob Hope tournament in January. "It was easier a long time ago," Couples said, referring to 1991 and '92 when he won five times. "But now when I get there I feel pretty good."
LPGA ROCHESTER: Juli Inkster shot a 4-under-par 68 Friday and Hollis Stacy had a 67 as two of the LPGA's veteran stars made a move to the top of the leaderboard at the Rochester, N.Y., International.
Inkster's solid round placed her in a four-way tie for first at 5-under 139 with Moira Dunn and Joan Pitcock, who shared the first-round lead, and Brandie Burton. Lurking just one shot behind was Sweden's Eva Dahllof.
Stacy, bad back and all, was another shot back at 141, tied with Lisa Walters, Corning Classic winner Tammie Green and Dawn Coe-Jones.
On a day when the wind gusted and rain halted play for more than an hour, Stacy, in her 24th year on tour, and Inkster, who like Coe-Jones joined the tour in 1983, showed the shortest way around the Locust Hill course.
PITTSBURGH SENIORS: Larry Nelson shook off an opening bogey to shoot a 7-under-par 65 Friday, matching the course record and giving him a two-shot lead over Walter Morgan and Al Geiberger after the first round of the Pittsburgh Senior Classic at Sweickley, Pa.
Nelson, currently the third-leading money winner on the Senior PGA Tour, birdied five of the final eight holes on the front nine of Sewickley Heights Golf Club. He pulled his drive on No. 1, a 414-yard, par-4, into a fairway sand trap.
"That round went just the way I wanted, except for No. 1," said Nelson, who joined the senior tour last September. "I don't think I could have played any better.
"I hit that bad drive at No. 1. Other than that, this was the smartest round of golf I've played since I turned 50."
Larry Liprando set the course record in 1977 at the Western Pennsylvania Golf Association Open, an annual Pittsburgh-area tournament.
Geiberger came back from a three-week tour hiatus to shoot a bogey-free 67. His layoff followed a confidence-shattering round of 86 in the Las Vegas Senior Classic a month ago. He finally turned the corner with a 15-foot putt at the par-4 9th.
TPC OF EUROPE: Ireland's Paul McGinley took a one-stroke lead Friday after the first round of the TPC of Europe at Alveslohe, Germany, while Masters champion Mark O'Meara was two back.
Mark O'Meara, playing his first European tournament since winning at Augusta, shot a 5-under 67, while McGinley sank seven birdies in his round of 65 at the $1.9 million event.
England's Peter Mitchell, who captured the Portugese Open in March, was a stroke back at 66.
NCAA MEN'S CHAMPIONSHIP: UNLV's relentless romp to its first national golf title remains on a record-setting track.
The Rebels, their talent so deep that their worst individual round Friday was an even-par 72, opened up a 10-shot lead over Clemson going into Saturday's final 18 holes in Albuquerque, N.M.
UNLV took control of the tournament with a 19-under round on Thursday and then was nearly as good in the third round. Senior Bill Lunde and junior Chris Berry both shot 5-under 67s, while freshman Scott Lander and junior Charley Hoffman had 71s.
UNLV's 12-under team score Friday gave the Rebels a 54-hole total of 35-under-par 829. That's already 12 shots better than the 72-hole tournament record of 23-under set by 1992 champion Arizona over the same Championship Course.
Clemson put up a solid 10-under score of 278 and lost ground to the Rebels. First-round leader Oklahoma State also shot 278 and is third, 13 shots back, and Georgia Tech is fourth, another stroke behind.
Minnesota freshman James McLean shares the individual lead with defending champion Charles Warren of Clemson.