Buddies Love, Furyk lead pack

KEN FIDLIN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:39 AM ET

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- What a civilized pursuit is this professional golf gig.

One night you invite Phil Mickelson and Justin Leonard and Davis Love and their families over to your mansion, feed them some tasty beef vittles. The next morning, though, you go out and try to beat the stuffing out of them on the golf course.

That's what Jim Furyk did Wednesday night and Thursday morning, though he couldn't shake Love.

Two of the dinner companions, Love and Furyk, sit at the top of the leaderboard after 18 holes at The Players Championship. Playing in the same threesome early in the morning, Love and Furyk took advantage of the day's best scoring conditions, each touring TPC Sawgrass in seven-under-par 65's. They are two shots clear of Bernhard Langer and Robert Allenby.

Canadians Mike Weir and Stephen Ames each fashioned rounds of one-under-par 71 and sit in 39th place.

Mickelson managed a round of two-under 70, but Leonard's three-over-par 75 probably gave him a little indigestion.

"It was just fun to be in a home and enjoying the kids, and the camaraderie makes you feel like you're not out on the road," Love said.

There's a very good chance the weather and not the dinner menu gave he and Furyk a leg up. TPC Sawgrass had been playing firm and fast all week but overnight rains allowed the early players to take advantage of softer conditions.

Weir was positioned to be in the top 10 at the end of the day, but he bogeyed two of the last three holes and then missed a six-foot birdie putt at the last. He played in the afternoon draw when the course and weather conditions were more difficult.

"It was a tough day," said Weir. "The rain, the breeze, the course played a lot longer in the afternoon."

Today, there is no rain in the forecast but winds of up to 40 kilometres per hour are possible, which will make life miserable for the field of 144.


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