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With 65, Kendall climbs the Hill

For every player such as Tiger Woods who comes along and plays golf with seemingly painless ease, there are hundreds with unquestioned talent and ability, grinding it out every week, betting that someday they will break through.

Palm Harbor's Skip Kendall is one of the masses. He is in his 10th year as a professional, but has never finished better than a tie for seventh in a PGA Tour event. In three previous PGA seasons, he has never been able to keep his playing card.

Unlike Woods, Kendall has to fight and scratch for his living in professional golf.

But here he is with another golden opportunity. Kendall shot 7-under-par 65 on Friday at the Bay Hill Club to take the lead after two rounds of the Bay Hill Invitational.

"I'm finally feeling more comfortable out here," said Kendall, who has two Nike Tour victories but a slew of disappointments on the PGA. "When I was a rookie, there was so much more than just golf. How can you get prepared for it?

"All of a sudden, it's not just the competition, but you're hitting balls with guys who I want their autograph."

Kendall, 32, is learning to get over those fears, but now he must learn to put an entire tournament together. Two weeks ago at the Doral Open, Kendall led after a first-round 65, then put up three 76s to finish well down the list. "I started three-jacking (three putting greens) all over the place," he said. "The putting went south and there goes the score."

That's what carried him on Friday. Kendall made five birdie putts of 10 feet or more and had just one bogey. He completed 36 holes at 135, 9 under par.

Kendall was one shot ahead of Omar Uresti (67) and Stuart Appleby, the winner of last week's Honda Classic, who shot 9-under-par 63.

Phil Mickelson, with 65, was another shot back at 137 along with Paul Stankowski (70) and Loren Roberts (67). Nick Price (68), Don Pooley (65), Mark O'Meara (66) and Brian Henninger (68) were at 138. Woods shot 71 and was tied with eight players at 139, four strokes back.

The second round was delayed by rain, and darkness came before 20 players could complete their rounds. They are scheduled to finish this morning, then the cut will be made to the low 70 players and ties.

Appleby appeared on his way to a course-record-tying 62 or better. His score came despite two bogeys, the second one after he had gone 10 under for the day with a birdie at the par-5 16th. He bogeyed the 17th, then lipped out a birdie putt at No.

18 to settle for his score _ 10 better than his opening-round 73.

"You shoot 63, you can't be playing bad," said Appleby, 25, a native of Australia who lives in Orlando just across the street from Bay Hill. "I got my putter in tune. That's the only thing to stop you from signing for a low score. When you shoot a low score, everything seems to click. You don't think about it. I hit the ball very well."

Kendall is playing at Bay Hill for the first time and received an invitation based on his top-70 standing on this year's money list. He didn't see the course until Monday.

"It's all putting for me," said Kendall, who had eight birdies and one bogey over the 7,207-yard course. "I really putted well. That was the key. I finally started seeing some putts longer than 10 feet go in. It was nice to see that."