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Nelson jumps ahead with 64

Published Oct. 6, 2005

Larry Nelson has one eye on his design business and the other on the Senior PGA Tour, but that doesn't mean he isn't focused on playing golf now.

The three-time major-championship winner is devoting more time to playing and less time to working in 1994, hoping to improve on the worst season of his 21-year PGA Tour career.

If his play Friday is any indication, Nelson will be happy with his decision. He shot 8-under-par 64 _ the best round of the tournament by four shots _ for 137 and a one-stroke lead over Tarpon Springs' John Huston, Orlando's Dick Mast and Billy Andrade in the Doral-Ryder Open.

Nelson's second-round 64 included a record-tying 29 on the front nine of Doral's "Blue Monster" course. "Every time I had a chance to make a putt on that side, I did," he said.

The golf-course business has limited Nelson's playing schedule in recent years. But after he slumped to 177th on the 1993 money list _ his worst showing since he joined the tour, in 1974 _ and went the first season without a top-10 finish, Nelson was determined to do something about it.

"I decided that I wanted to play, and you can't do that coming out here for one week and leaving for three," said Nelson, 46, who won the PGA Championship in 1981 and 1987 and the U.S. Open in 1983. "You just keep making the same mistakes. I still think I can play pretty well. Plus, my son is caddying for me and my family is with me. It's fun."

Nelson admitted that he can't help but think about the PGA Senior Tour, which for him is four years away.

"I think for anybody past 35 the senior tour is in your thoughts," Nelson said. "You see guys who make more money in their first year on the senior tour than they did in the entire career on the regular tour. That's hard to pass up."

After struggling in the wind Thursday, bogeying three of the final four holes, Nelson switched putters for the second round and got the young eyes of 15-year-old son Josh, his caddie, to read putts.

Starting on the back nine, Nelson made two birdies and a bogey. Then he got hot on the front side, making birdies on the first three holes, adding two at the fifth and sixth, and then hitting a 228-yard 4-wood shot to 3 feet for an eagle on the par-5 eighth hole.

"All I had to worry about was making the strokes," Nelson said of his putting. "And I made a lot of good ones."

So did Huston, off to the best start of his seven-year career. Although he has missed two cuts, he finished in the top 10 in the other three tournaments, including a third-place finish in Hawaii. Huston has won $134,800 to rank 16th on the money list.

"I had never really played that well on the West Coast," said Huston, who had his best year in 1993, finishing 15th on the money list with $681,441. "Now I've got big expectations in Florida. I have some momentum."

Huston had six birdies and two bogeys to shoot 68 for 138, 6 under par and tied with Mast and Andrade, both of whom held or shared the lead for part of the round. Mast got to 7 under before consecutive bogeys knocked him out of the lead. Andrade was tied with Nelson until a bogey on the 18th hole.

Brad Bryant was another shot back at 139. First-round leaders Jim Thorpe and Raymond Floyd could not keep up the pace. Thorpe's par 72 left him at 140, three shots back. Floyd, who briefly remained tied for the lead early in the round, shot 40 on the back nine and finished with 76. He was at par, seven shots back.

At least they will be around for the weekend. The cut came at 148, 4 over par. Nick Faldo, who double-bogeyed the last hole, missed by one at 149. Jack Nicklaus could not overcome his first-round 80 and finished at 153.

_ Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.