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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, January 7, 2006

Plantation course is no pushover

By Bill Kwon
Special to The Advertiser

KAPALUA, Maui As far as Michael Campbell was concerned, the windy conditions with constant gusts of 35 mph made yesterday's second round of the Mercedes Championships at the Plantation Course seem like it was the British Open.

"It's pretty close to an Open. Very similar. It's good practice for the Open. Be good to come here and practice here a week on this golf course," said the reigning U.S. Open champion who's tied for second place with Jim Furyk, David Toms and Vijay Singh one stroke behind two-time defending champion Stuart Appleby.

The scores reflected it as no one posted a round in the 60s for the first time since the Mercedes Championships moved here in 1999. The best round of the day was a 3-under-par 70 turned in by Jason Bohn.

So imagine Appleby's surprise that his 3-under 143 after a 72 yesterday made him the 36-hole leader for the $1.08 million winning paycheck tomorrow.

"I would have thought you'd have to be thinking 10-under par, no problem," Appleby said.

But there were problems all over the sprawling par-73 course, especially for Olin Browne who was blown off the top of the leaderboard after his opening-round 69 the lowest score so far this week. He tumbled to a tie for sixth after a 76 after holding a four-stroke lead after five holes.

The 143 is the highest 36-hole score by six strokes for the event at the Plantation Course which has yet to yield an eagle. By comparison, Vijay Singh led at the midway point with a 131 last year when every player in the field shot par or better for 72 holes. The record for lowest first 36 is 128 set by Rocco Mediate in 2003.

Ernie Els' record 31-under par 261 when he won in 2003? Forget about it. Appleby would need back-to-back 59s just to tie.

One record looks beatable: Tiger Woods' highest winning score of 16-under 276 in 2000, especially if the winds continue to blow the rest of the weekend.

"I played with Jim Furyk the last couple of days. He said this is the toughest he's seen it," said Campbell, who thought the leaders would easily be under par in the double figures. "Obviously, with the wind conditions, it just is a lot harder."

"It was a difficult day out there. I've never seen scoring on this golf course so high," added Furyk, who owns a vacation home overlooking the 18th hole.

Asked if it was the wind or the new Tif-Eagle greens that made the scoring more difficult, Furyk said, "Oh, the wind."

Still the combination of the wind and speed of the greens, which made the putting difficult, made it a tough day all around. The scoring average was 75.5 for the 28 players in the field.

Carl Pettersson was the Poster Boy of yesterday's second round, shooting a 12-over 85 to tie the highest round in the event here. Robert Damron posted his big number in the third round in 2002.

Predicting what it would take to win is like predicting the weather, according to Furyk. In other words, you never know what's going to happen.

For the leaders, it just means hunkering down and not losing any more strokes to par.

Not everyone was complaining, especially a care-free Bohn, who had the best round of the day to leap-frog 14 spots up the leaderboard.

"Since day one, since I got here, I'm having a ton of fun," said Bohn, one of 11 first-timers here after winning the B.C. Open.

Bohn liked the wind because he played so well.

"I might not be the best person to ask how hard the wind was blowing today. Somebody who shot high might be a better judge of that," he said.

Bill Kwon can be reached at bkwon@aloha.net.

CLINIC

WILSON, MCLACHLIN AT OLOMANA TODAY

Dean Wilson, a PGA Touring pro, and Parker McLachlin, a Nationwide Tour player, will conduct a clinic today at 3:30 p.m. at the Olomana Golf Links.

Wilson is a Castle High alum, while McLachlin is a Punahou alum.