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Health problems forgotten, Frazar leads tournament

Posted: Friday, January 24, 2003

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) -- Harrison Frazar tied his best PGA Tour score with a 9-under-par 62 Thursday to open a two-stroke lead over John Huston and David Toms after the first round of the Phoenix Open.

Despite the attention focused on youngsters like Aaron Baddeley and Sergio Garcia, the first round belonged to a relatively obscure veteran who has never won a PGA tournament.

Retief Goosen, J.J. Henry, John Rollins, Luke Donald and James McLean carded 65s. Scott McCarron, Steve Elkington, Ian Leggatt, Charles Howell III, Dan Forsman, Tim Petrovic, Shaun Micheel and Kirk Triplett were a shot behind them.

Garcia was in a group of 29 at 69. The cluster also included defending champion Chris DiMarco and former champions Phil Mickelson (1996) and Rocco Mediate (1999), who placed third in last week's Sony Open.

The 21-year-old Baddeley, who was second at Honolulu, shot a 71 and needs a strong second round to make the cut. So does Ty Tryon, 18, who made his PGA debut last year at Phoenix and missed the cut then. He shot a 73.

Frazar played most of 1999 with a broken hand and missed two months of the 2001 season after having surgery to repair torn ligaments and cartilage in his right hip.

He plugged along, somehow managing to remain among the top 100 money-winners. Frazar began last year still hurt and made only 15 cuts, but had five top 10 finishes.

After tying for 33rd in Honolulu on Sunday, Frazar decided to break out the new Titleist X ball. He also had dinner Wednesday night with a friend, psychologist Fran Perazzoli, to discuss his putting stroke.

Everything clicked. Frazar had five birdies on the front nine, finishing with three in a row on the TPC of Scottsdale course.

He bogeyed the 469-yard 11th hole when he got too much of a divot with his 7-iron, lofting a shot that fell short of the green to negate an exceptional drive. Frazar chipped on but two-putted.

He got to 6-under with a 20-foot eagle chip on No. 13 after hitting a 5-wood a yard off the green, then had three more birdies from Nos. 15-17.

Huston got to 64 by birdieing five of the last seven holes. Toms went the other way, double-bogeying the 18th to fall out of the lead after recording his ninth birdie on the previous hole.

John Daly, who tied for fourth last year, staggered to a 77. His round included a double bogey and then five straight bogeys on the front nine, and a discouraging bogey at No. 15, where he nearly beaned a duck after hooking his tee shot into water.

''I hit the 3-wood awful today,'' Daly said. ''For some reason I hit it left. If you don't hit the fairways out here, you're not going to score.''

Huston's back-nine start included two bogeys. But he also had an eagle on his fourth hole -- the same par-5 Frazar eagled -- and a birdie.

After the turn, he had three birdies in five holes, and he hit short irons to the greens at the next-to-last and last holes, sinking 20- and 15-foot putts.

Toms, playing in his first 2003 event, birdied five consecutive holes from Nos. 9-14, pulling within one shot of the lead.

He got into a tie on No. 17, where he chipped to within 5 feet. But he lost two strokes on No. 18, a 438-yard par-4 which demands a tee shot that carries at least 200 yards over a large lake.

Instead, Toms pulled it into the water and had to drop another ball.



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