Pavin leads halfway through Colonial

Saturday, May 19th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) _ Corey Pavin is starting to have those feelings again.

``I feel a lot more comfortable on the golf course than I have in a long time,'' Pavin said after a 6-under-par 64 Friday put him in the lead at the Colonial.

Pavin's revival comes at the same time of his reunion with coach Bruce Hamilton for the first time since 1995, the year he won the U.S. Open and the only time he won more than $1 million in a season. The swing has been overhauled, and the winning feeling has returned for the 41-year-old player.

And Pavin is at Colonial, where he got the last of his 14 PGA Tour victories in 1996. He also won at the historic 7,080-yard course in 1985 when he became the tournament's youngest winner at the age of 25.

Pavin twice had three straight birdies _ including the first three holes _ and saved par out of the sand three times in a four-hole stretch Friday. It was his best PGA Tour round in two years, matching a 64 during the second round of 1999 Colonial.

At 8-under 132, Pavin was a stroke ahead of Phil Mickelson, the defending champ and first-round co-leader, and Brett Quigley.

``I never felt like my game was gone. I knew I just had to get it back on track,'' Pavin said. ``Hopefully, I can get back in that same frame of mind I was in from 1991-96, get back in that grove.''

Mickelson's 68 included an uncharacteristic three-putt down the stretch. Quigley, who tied for second in Greensboro in the only tournament he has finished this year, birdied the final hole to wrap up a bogey-free 64.

Mickelson, who started on the back nine, had matched Pavin for the lead with three straight birdies midway through his round. But Mickelson missed a 30-inch par putt on the 192-yard eighth hole.

``The course played about as easy as it could have without any wind. Unfortunately, I couldn't capitalize,'' Mickelson said.

Rocco Mediate shot a career-best 62, one stroke off the course record and a 10-stroke improvement over his opening 72, to move to 6-under 134.

Jim Furyk, who matched Mickelson with a 65 in the first round, followed with a 71 to fall four strokes off the lead.

Pavin started his second round with a tap-in birdie on No. 1, a 565-yard hole where his 45-foot eagle putt stopped just short of the hole. He followed with a 25-foot birdie putt on No. 2, then holed a bunker shot on the 476-yard third.

After missing the green and making bogey on the 246-yard fourth hole, Pavin got that stroke back with a wedge shot to 3 feet for a birdie at the 427-yard seventh. He followed a 30-foot birdie putt on No. 9 with birdies of 12 and 15 feet to start the back nine.

``I definitely have a lot more confidence than I did in the last five years. It's been a struggle,'' Pavin said. ``Getting back with Bruce has really helped my confidence a lot. And I'm now starting to feel comfortable with the swing changes we made.''

Mickelson saved par despite missing the fairways on Nos. 5, 6 and 7, then hit the front edge of the green at the eighth hole. His long, uphill birdie attempt broke just off of the hole, then he missed the usual gimme.

``I didn't hit the ball very close to the hole, but I had a number of lengthy putts that seemed like they were going in,'' Mickelson said. ``I putted very well but didn't get as much out of it as I probably should have.''

When Pavin appeared to be in trouble, he blasted out of the greenside bunkers at the 433-yard 12th and 178-yard 13th within 2 feet for easy par putts. His approach to the 15th plugged into the upper lip of a bunker about 50 feet from the hole, but he hit his sand wedge to 7 feet for another save.

Mediate, who hasn't finished better than 12th since starting the year with two top-six finishes, got the last of his eight birdies with a 15-foot downhill putt that broke 3 feet on the par-3 16th. He also made a pair of 30-foot birdie putts.

Divots: Blaine McCallister, who hasn't won on tour since 1993 and made the cut for just the third time his last 11 tournaments, had a bogey-free 64 and was among six players at 135. Scott McCarron, Tom Lehman, Kirk Triplett, Brian Gay and Jeff Sluman also were three strokes off the lead. ... Mediate birdied all four par 3s. ... Dennis Paulson finished his round by hitting four balls into the water fronting the green at the 402-yard ninth hole. He took a 12, the highest score ever on a par 4 during the Colonial. There had been three 10s. ... Jeff Maggart's 9 on No. 13 matched the highest Colonial score on a par 3.