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Leonard in lead; money race tight

LAKE BUENA VISTA — Justin Leonard described his round Friday at Disney as a "fun, easy day." He shot 9-under 63 for his lowest round of the year, tying him for the lead with Henrik Stenson and Bio Kim at the Children's Miracle Network Classic at 12-under 132.

It was only after his round that he felt as though he was on Thunder Mountain without having left the course.

Leonard is 144th on the PGA Tour money list but not worried about keeping his tour card because he is exempt through 2012. Because of a misprint in the media guide, reporters didn't understand how he was exempt, leading to confusion — and a brief spell of panic for Leonard — as tour officials researched regulations to confirm the answer.

By the time he headed for the Magic Kingdom for a parade with his four children, all was well.

The leaders were two shots clear of Nick O'Hern.

Webb Simpson and Luke Donald, battling for the money title, played the opening two rounds at 7-under 137, meaning they will be paired again today after playing the first two rounds together. Simpson has a $363,029 lead; Donald tops the world rankings.

The stress is at the bottom of the money list. The players at Nos. 123, 124 and 125 — D.J. Trahan, Bobby Gates and James Driscoll — made the cut.

Kim, who shot 65, is at No. 168 and has to finish no worse than second to avoid qualifying school. Stenson, who had 64, is at No. 180 but is exempt through 2014 for winning the Players Championship.

Leonard also has no concern about next year.

"I did call the tour a couple months ago and asked about my status. I'm exempt for next year, so I'm not playing with that kind of pressure," Leonard said. "I don't know how, I just am. I gave the same look to the telephone. 'How is this guy still exempt?' "

His British Open win in 1997 came with a 10-year exemption. Starting in 2003, the tour began adding to the 10-year exemption with every win. Leonard won five times after 2003, thus he is exempt through 2012.

LPGA: Azahara Munoz carded 6-under 66 to share the lead with Anna Nordqvist after the second round of the inaugural Taiwan Championship in Yang Mei. Both were at 7-under 137. Tampa resident Kristy McPherson was at 146, and Tampa's Cindy LaCrosse was at 154.

Leonard in lead; money race tight 10/22/11 [Last modified: Saturday, October 22, 2011 12:25am]

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