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Azinger still tied for lead

Chris Perry birdied the last two holes for a 3-under-par 68 on Friday and a share of the lead with Paul Azinger and Denis Watson halfway through the Buick Classic. Perry and Azinger were among a foursome tied for the lead at the beginning of the day.

Azinger, of Bradenton, continued his mastery of the front nine on the Westchester Country Club course in a round of 68. For the second day in a row he played the front in 31.

For two days, Azinger now is 10 under par on the front and 2 over par on the back.

"Just coincidence," he said.

Perry, who is at 8-under 134 after 36 holes, is atop the halfway leaderboard for the second time in three weeks.

"They're thinking, "Perry? Oh, he hasn't won yet. We don't have to worry about him,'

" said Perry, the son of former major-league pitcher Jim Perry, who hasn't won in seven seasons on the PGA Tour.

"One of these days they won't be saying that. If I keep getting in position, it's going to happen sooner or later," he said. "Maybe this week. Maybe next week. Maybe a year from now.

"But it'll happen."

Watson, who has played infrequently in the last couple of years due to a variety of medical problems, scrambled out of trees and traps to a 67.

"This is kind of exciting for me," said Watson, who collected three victories in 1984 but hasn't won since.

Fred Couples holed four putts in the 20-30-foot range in the best round of the tournament, a 65, that left him one stroke off the lead.

He was tied with Fulton Allem, who received treatment from an acupuncturist for a back problem before shooting a 69.

Seve Ballesteros of Spain, a two-time winner of this tournament, put himself in contention with a 67 that left him only three behind the leaders.