Weir jumps into lead at Mercedes tourney

Friday, January 4, 2002

KAPALUA, Hawaii -- The last time Mike Weir played on the PGA Tour, he was hitting his irons close to the flag on his way to victory in the Tour Championship. Two months later, only the scenery has changed.

In the best ball-striking round of his career, Weir tied the Plantation Course record with a 10-under-par 63 on Thursday and built a three-stroke lead in the first round of the season-opening Mercedes Championships.

"That was way above my expectations," Weir said, who spent much of December skiing.

Frank Lickliter, one of nine players making their debuts in the winners-only tournament, holed out from 144 yards with an 8-iron after hitting into a hazard for an unusual birdie, which carried him to a 66.

David Duval, who first set the course record two years ago, had a 67 and was joined by Cameron Beckman, Chris DiMarco and Scott Verplank.

Tiger Woods took an adventurous route along Kapalua, but straightened himself out with two eagles and finished with a 68.

With only a stiff breeze blowing off the coast of Maui, Woods figured someone would shoot about 65.

"Weirsy happened to go lower. That's good for him," Woods said. "He's been playing well and he's going to be hard to catch."

The start of the season was still a relaxing day for some. Duval was anxious to get in front of a television to watch the Rose Bowl, and he's counting the days before he can hit the slopes in Sun Valley -- Monday morning. In between, he posted a 67.

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