Briny Baird leads Funai Classic at halfway stage

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Briny Baird shot a 6-under-par 66 Friday to take a one-stroke lead from Tom Lehman at the Funai Classic at Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

Updated: February 25, 2007 10:08 IST
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Briny Baird shot a 6-under-par 66 Friday to take a one-stroke lead from Tom Lehman at the Funai Classic at Lake Buena Vista, Florida. Winless for almost five years, Lehman put himself in contention for the third straight week with his second consecutive 6-under-par 66 Friday for a 12-under-par 132. Cameron Beckman - number 123 on the money list - had a 65 and was in the group at 133 that includes Hank Kuehne (64), Kirk Triplett (67) and Skip Kendall (67). Early showers gave way to a breezy, warm afternoon Friday at Disney's Magnolia & Palm Courses in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. J.L. Lewis shot a 62 Thursday to hold the top spot on the leaderboard coming into the second round, but Lewis couldn't keep the momentum going and settled for a round of one-over par. He was still in contention at nine-under heading into the weekend. Charles Howell III turned in the shot of the day when he chipped in for a birdie on the 12th hole on the Magnolia course. Howell was one-under on the day and six-under for the tournament after his second round. Vijay Singh didn't give himself enough good looks at birdie and had to settle for a 71. That left him at seven-under 137 and in a tie for 28th as he tries to win his fourth straight PGA Tour event. Lehman, whose game has slipped in the last two years, suddenly looks like the Lehman of old. He played in the final group Sunday in Las Vegas and Greensboro, closing with rounds of 69 and 70 to finish in a tie for second and a tie for fourth respectively. The difference has been his short 'stick', which is no longer the shortest stick in his bag. Lehman switched back to his long-handled putter at the Canadian Open last month, and watching more putts disappear into the cup has helped his confidence return. He has had 17 consecutive rounds at par or better since going back to that putter. Justin Rose looked quite adept with the shortstick on Friday as well. Rose saved par on the 12th hole of the Magnolia course en route to a round of 4-under par. The young Englishman was 5-under heading into the weekend. Briny Baird isn't having quite the season he did in 2003 when he qualified for the PGA Tour Championship for the first time, but that could change over the next two days. He shot a 66 on the Palm course and was atop the leaderboard at 13-under 131. Baird had seven birdies and, equally important, six par saves in taking only 23 putts. This is only the third time he has been the 36-hole leader, but it's far from over. Baird leads by only one shot, and there were 26 players within five shots of it with 36 holes to play. (AP)

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