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El Nino Blows Away Stormy Day at Medinah

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MEDINAH, Ill. (AP) -- Skip Kendall got off to a blazing start on
an accommodating Medinah Country Club today, shooting a 6-under 30
on the front nine to move into contention in the second round of
the PGA Championship.

Kendall, who has never won on the PGA Tour, also birdied the
10th hole to get 7-under for the day and 5-under for the
tournament, leaving him two strokes behind first-round leader
Sergio Garcia.

Garcia was 1-under through three holes as Medinah's No. 3 course
served notice it would not be too challenging to par today.

With greens softened by rainstorms Thursday, players were able
to fire at pins and run putts boldly at the hole.

Kendall, who shot a 2-over 74 on Thursday, made four straight 3s
to open his round, including an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole. He
ended the front nine with two more birdies, then birdied the 10th.

The 19-year-old Garcia, who led by two after an opening 66, also
started strongly, making a birdie on the third hole to get to
7-under for the tournament.

A day after a series of storms blew across Medinah on the
opening day of the PGA Championship and threatened to disrupt the
season's final major in a torrent of water and words, the focus
returned to golf.

On Thursday, none played better than Garcia, Spain's own El
Nino, who had a masterful round a tournament awash with rain and
Ryder Cup controversy.

And, the youngest player in the field did it with the cocky self
confidence that made his opening 89 in the British Open seem a
distant memory.

"I think I proved myself today. I think the British Open is
done," Garcia said. "I don't want to hear any more questions
about the British Open."

Garcia's round, which included a 32 on the back nine and tied
the competitive course record, put him two shots ahead of the
unlikely trio of Jay Haas, Mike Weir and J.P. Hayes. Lurking just
two more shots back were the big names of David Duval, Tiger Woods,
Tom Lehman, Nick Price and senior star Hale Irwin.

All took advantage of the rain softened greens of Medinah's No.
3 course, but none did it any better than Garcia, the Spanish
sensation with his El Nino nickname sewn on his golf bag.

The rainstorms sent most in the gallery packing by the time
Garcia stroked a 9-iron to within 6 feet on the 18th hole for a
final birdie that put him two ahead of the field.

Fifteen players could not finish their opening rounds because of
the rain delay, including Corey Pavin, who was 3-under on the 17th
hole. Pavin finished today with an opening round 69.

The second round opened under cloudy and breezy conditions, but
without the rain of the first day. Garcia had an early tee time,
while Woods and Duval played in the afternoon.

"I think I'm good enough to stay where I am," Garcia said. "I
always like to be two strokes ahead. If I'm four ahead tomorrow,
I'm not going to feel any pressure."

That couldn't be said for Duval and Woods, who were feeling
pressure of a different sort.

Their demands that they have a say in how Ryder Cup profits are
spent drew a harsh rebuke on Wednesday from captain Ben Crenshaw,
and continued a public relations debacle that took the spotlight
away from their strong opening rounds.

"The last thing the tour needs is a label put on us as greedy,
wimpy, whiny brats," Lehman said.

Crenshaw was more conciliatory on Thursday, saying perhaps he
spoke too soon, but there was no question he felt that efforts by
Duval, Woods, Mark O'Meara and Phil Mickelson should have been
directed more toward the honor of representing their country Sept.
24-26 near Boston.

"All I can tell you is I'm from a different generation and the
Ryder Cup means a lot to me," Crenshaw said. "I'm probably upset
because people aren't as excited about it as I am. I hope that's
not the case."
Neither Woods nor Duval was backing off after opening in
contention, though Duval said his remarks were misrepresented and
that he never favored players being paid to play in the Ryder Cup.

Still, both players seemed less excited about winning the Ryder
Cup back from Europe than Crenshaw would like them to be.

"It seems like a pretty large corporate outing," Duval said.

"It's an exhibition. It always has been," Woods added. "It's
not meant to be played as a war."

The Ryder Cup was also on Garcia's mind, but in a different way.
He is trying to play his way onto the European team, and a top 10
finish in the PGA figures to do the trick.
Several American players also had a spot on the team in mind,
including Lehman, who is 11th on the points list, but seems assured
of making the team at least on a captain's pick.

Bruce Zabriski has no chance of making the team, but said
Crenshaw's impromptu speech on Wednesday inspired him to a 70 of
his own.

"I could have walked through brick walls after that speech he
gave," Zabriski said.

Garcia's 66 was the lowest first round in a major this year, and
35 golfers broke par in the opening round. A steady rain that came
down early helped tame the Medinah greens and led to some low early
scores.

"This is very similar to a U.S. Open setup," Woods said of a
course that has played host to three Opens, the last in 1990. "The
only difference is that the fairways aren't as narrow. The PGA has
given us some room to drive the ball, which I think is great."

(Copyright 1999 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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