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Colonial leader takes sandy route

| Saturday, May 20, 2006

FORT WORTH, Texas -- Rod Pampling spent plenty of time in the sand during the second round of the Colonial. So, what was he doing from there?

"Making pars," Pampling said after his career-best 7-under-par 63 on Friday.

And even a couple of birdies.

Pampling was 5 for 5 in sand saves, including his last two holes, to get to 10-under 130 and a stroke ahead of first-round leader Stewart Cink (67), Stephen Ames (66) and PGA Tour rookie Charley Hoffman (66).

"Ball striking-wise, I don't think it was one of my better rounds," Pampling said. "But it was right up there in controlling myself and controlling my emotions. I didn't get flustered."

On his closing hole, the 408-yard ninth, Pampling hit his tee shot into a left fairway bunker and his approach over the green into more sand before blasting to 6 feet. At the par-3 eighth, he hit a greenside bunker and saved par with an 11-foot putt.

Tim Herron (65), Peter Lonard (66) and Dean Wilson (65), best known at Colonial as Annika Sorenstam's playing partner three years ago, were two strokes back at 132.

"I'm glad I'm in contention," Herron said. "Besides the Kenny Perrys, it's always been a close Colonial. It depends on if Kenny Perry goes off."

Perry, the defending champion, was six strokes off the lead after five birdies and five bogeys in a round of 70 yesterday. Perry had record 19-under totals in 2003 and 2005 at the Colonial to win by wide margins.

Fredrik Jacobson matched his career best with a 62, a bogey-free round that was the best of the day. He joined Jim Furyk (67), Arron Oberholser (68), Richard Johnson (65) and Henrik Bjornstad (64) at 7-under.

Two-time Colonial champion Ben Crenshaw, the 54-year-old who returned as part of the tournament's 60th anniversary, made the cut with a 67 that got him to even par. There were 77 players who made the cut, 1-over 141 for the third time in four years.

Pampling started with three consecutive birdies, including the first sand save at the 611-yard No. 11 when his approach after a 327-yard drive landed in a greenside bunker. He blasted to 6 feet and made the birdie.

At the 188-yard 16th, Pampling put his drive into the back of another bunker, saving par from the awkward position when he hit to less than 10 feet.

"That was a big par putt to keep things going," said Pampling, who won at Bay Hill in March. "As long as I keep making them, the momentum keeps going. You start feeling confident that, if you miss a green, you can get it up and down."

Such as the par 5, the 563-yard No. 1 hole, where Pampling's approach was in a bunker to the left of the green. The 36-year-old Australian hit from there to less than 4 feet for another birdie.

Ames used to worry about mechanics, believing it took the perfect swing to be on the PGA Tour. Now, he focuses on seeing and playing shots, an approach that works well at the old-style 7,054-yard Colonial layout.

"When I'm shaping the ball or seeing the shot beforehand, my mechanics come quicker that way," said the 42-year-old Ames, who in March won the Players Championship by six strokes. "Rather than trying to fit into the mold, I would rather try to just let it happen and feel it into the mold."

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