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He Putts Himself Into Lead at Players

From Associated Press

Padraig Harrington of Ireland is in position to become only the second European -- joining Sandy Lyle of Scotland in 1987 -- to win The Players Championship at Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

“I could go out there and play better and do worse,” Harrington said Friday.

“I’m never surprised what golf shows up. I’m hitting it poor off the tee, but I’m recovering well. It’s a strange game. If you’re going to hit one good shot, it better be the putt.”

He has only 52 putts through the first two rounds.

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Craig Perks, meanwhile, woke up to learn that his caddie was in jail. Perks asked a chaplain to carry his bag until he could find a replacement and he still wound up in contention.

Harrington made 10 birdies in 26 holes, giving him rounds of 67, 68 and a two-stroke lead in golf’s first big event of the year.

He was at nine-under-par 135 and had a two-stroke lead over Perks (69), Davis Love III (67) and Skip Kendall (69), who has yet to make a bogey on the TPC at Sawgrass.

Fred Couples finished a five-under 67 in the morning then shot 71 in the second round and was at six-under 138, along with 22-year-old Adam Scott (69) and 49-year-old Jay Haas (70).

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The second round was suspended by darkness with 27 players unable to finish.

Tiger Woods had an eight-foot par putt on his 10th hole and was in jeopardy of falling below the cut line. He made it, plus three birdies in the next four holes, for a 70 to finish seven strokes behind.

The cut likely will be even par when the second round is completed this morning, the lowest since it was two under in 1996.

Perks had to finish five holes Friday morning because of Thursday’s rain delay. The problem was finding someone to carry his bag.

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His caddie, Rodney Erb, was stopped for speeding Thursday night and police discovered an outstanding warrant for worthless checks. A Duval County jail spokesman said Erb spent the night in jail before posting bond for $513.

So Perks summoned Rev. George Woods, a chaplain for the caddies, to carry his bag in the morning, then used veteran caddie Tony Lingard in the afternoon.

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Jack Nicklaus will play in the Masters for the 43rd time, convinced by two practice rounds at Augusta National that he feels good enough and hits the ball long enough to compete.

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Nicklaus, 63, played a practice round Sunday with his three oldest sons and played again Thursday with his youngest son and Arnold Palmer.


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