Larry Nelson followed an opening-round 63 with a 6-under-par 66 Friday on a course that borders his home to widen his lead to four strokes midway through the $700,000 Atlanta Golf Classic in Marietta, Ga.
The two-time PGA champion and former U.S. Open winner, who lives along side the 18th fairway at the Classic site, stood at 15-under 129 through 36 holes - a tournament record and matching the low 36-hole score on this year's Tour.His closest pursuers were Paul Azinger, who eagled the final hole to post a 67; Chip Beck, who closed with a birdie for a 66; and Bobby Wadkins, who had a 69 after being stung by a couple of late double bogeys.
Nelson, 40, had made 14 birdies before his first bogey in two days at his 10th hole Friday.
"I would have liked to have shot another 63, but I'm pleased with my 66," Nelson said with a smile. "I'd like to play the last 36 holes in 15-under, too, because it might take something like that to win this week. I wouldn't feel safe with 23-under (he Classic record) at this point."
Nelson insists playing on his home course, where he has won the Classic only once (n 1980), isn't as big an advantage as some might think.
Azinger, who won more than $822,000 last year and more than $326,000 so far this year, sank a 60-foot putt to vault into the three-way tie for second.
Wadkins, still trying for his first victory in 14 years on Tour, had trouble getting out of a bunker en route to the first of two double bogeys. He picked up the other on his final hole when his sand wedge went sour.
Scott Hoch, with a second-round 65, and Larry Rinker (9) were at 135; defending champion Dave Barr (6) of Canada, Ray Barr (9), Dave Rummells (9) and Russ Cochran (0) at 136; and Lanny Wadkins (8) and Wayne Levi (9) at 137.
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At Wilmington, Del., Patty Sheehan, who trailed by one shot after the opening day, fired a 5-under-par 66 to take a three-stroke lead after two rounds of the $500,000 LPGA McDonald's Championship.
Sheehan's round, which consisted of five birdies on the Du Pont Country Club course, gave her a two-day total of 8-under 134, three shots ahead of Nancy Lopez, Kathy Postlewait and Dottie Mochrie.
Lopez, the leading money winner on the LPGA Tour with $242,522 in earnings, played in the same threesome as Sheehan and matched her round of 66, offsetting six birdies with a single bogey.
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At Oklahoma City, defending champion Chi Chi Rodriguez shot a 4-under-par 68 to take a share of the first-round lead in the $250,000 Southwestern Bell Silver Pages Classic.
Rodriguez, a one-time winner on the Senior PGA Tour this year, birdied four out of five holes coming in, including three in a row, to tie Bobby Nichols and playing partner Gene Littler.
The crowded leader board had eight players at 3-under, including top money winner Orville Moody, Gary Player, Harold Henning and 66-year-old Jack Fleck, who is competing in the Super Senior division. Seven others were two shots back including Bruce Crampton, runner-up to Rodriguez here a year ago.
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At Paris, Dennis Durnian of Britain carded an eagle on his final hole to conclude a round of 2-under-par 68 to build a five-shot lead midway through the $540,000 French Open.
Durnian, 38, strung together 13 pars from the start. His 6-foot eagle putt gave him a 36-hole total of 7-under 133. Nick Faldo of Britain had six birdies in a 67 to stand five shots back in second place.
While Faldo remained in the hunt, the man who beat him in a playoff Monday to gain the U.S. Open was all but out of contention. Curtis Strange carded a 73 and was 10 shots off the pace at 143.