American Willis shoots 62 to share Vegas lead

LAS VEGAS, Oct 13 (Reuters) American journeyman Garrett Willis shrugged off a late night and a sluggish start to charge into a three-way tie for the lead in the Las Vegas Open second round.

The 33-year-old from North Carolina fired a sparkling 10-under-par 62, just one off the course record at the TPC Summerlin yesterday, for a 13-under total of 130.

Willis set the pace at the tournament's halfway point with fellow Americans D J Trahan (65) and PGA Tour rookie George McNeill (64), who both played at the neighbouring TPC Canyons.

Twice major winner John Daly also made the most of a sun-drenched day of low-scoring in the Nevada desert, following his opening 74 with a 63 at Summerlin to lie seven strokes off the lead.

The 144-strong field played the opening two rounds on each of the co-hosting venues before the action switches to the Summerlin layout for the weekend.

Willis, who has bounced between the PGA Tour and the second tier Nationwide Tour for the last three years, feared the worst yesterday when he arrived at the course later than scheduled.

''I got a slow start out of the hotel this morning,'' he told reporters. ''When you have a 7:10 tee time and you're staying in Vegas it's tough to get to bed at a decent hour.

''I only warmed up for about 20 minutes prior to the round.

I hit the first fairway and was pretty pleased but bogeyed the second hole and my first thought was: 'Great, you put yourself in a position where you'll have to grind it out for the cut'.'' Despite bogeying the par-four 11th, Willis hit back with a birdie at the 12th and picked up three more shots to reach the turn in three-under 33.

SPARKLING ORDER With his approach play in sparkling order, Willis scorched the back nine in seven-under 29, including an eagle at the par-five third where he hit his second shot to 10 feet.

Willis, whose only PGA Tour victory came at the 2001 Tucson Open, finished one stroke off the course-record 61 set by Davis Love III in 2001.

Daly made one of the biggest moves of the day, covering the back nine in a blistering eight-under 28.

The big-hitting American, playing the 2007 PGA Tour mainly on sponsor's exemptions, rattled up 10 birdies, one eagle and three bogeys to post a six-under total of 137.

''It's just a great feeling to get some decent round in for a change,'' the 41-year-old said after shooting his lowest score of the year on the PGA Tour.

Of the other big names, 2003 Masters champion Mike Weir carded a 67 at Summerlin to lie six shots off the pace.

American world number 24 Scott Verplank, the highest-ranked player in the field, returned a 70 at Summerlin to finish at three-under 140, two strokes outside the projected cut.

Reuters DKS VP0640

Story first published: Saturday, October 13, 2007, 14:41 [IST]
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