Singh back in top form at Bay Hill


Vijay Singh was forced to take four days off from practicing, which was unprecedented. He found himself atop the leaderboard one week later at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, which is not surprising in the least.

Weakened by a stomach virus that caused him to lose 18 pounds in five days, Singh recovered in time to make a strong defense of his Bay Hill title by chipping in twice Friday on his way to a 5-under 65 and a two-shot lead over Carl Pettersson.

The 45-year-old Fijian looked like the model of athleticism on a day of gray clouds and occasional rain, not even remotely resembling someone afraid to stray too far from the bathroom for four days. He had a 9-under 131 total.

Tiger Woods also looked sick, but only after watching putts come up short on shoddy greens. Woods, trying to continue a winning streak that stretches all the way back to September, had to settle for nine straight pars to close out a 2-under 68. He was seven shots behind going into the weekend.

Pettersson opened with three straight birdies on his way to a 65. Former U.S. Open champion Jim Furyk birdied the last hole for 67, leaving him in the group at 134 that included Lee Westwood (68) and Ken Duke (67).

Singh finally exorcised his demons at Bay Hill last year with a comfortable two-shot victory, giving him 31 career victories to tie Harry "Lighthorse" Cooper for most by a foreign-born player. They're still tied.

MasterCard Classic

At Huixquilcan, Mexico, Lorena Ochoa shot a 4-over 76 &

her highest score in nearly a year &

in the MasterCard Classic, leaving the top-ranked Mexican star nine strokes behind first-round leader Jill McGill.

Coming off an 11-stroke victory two weeks ago in Singapore in her season debut, Ochoa had six bogeys and two birdies on the hilly Bosque Real Country Club course. The 76 was her highest score since a 77 in the final round of the Ginn Open last April.

McGill, the 1993 U.S. Women's Amateur champion who is winless in 13 seasons on the LPGA Tour, eagled the 541-yard ninth hole &

her last hole &

for a 5-under 67. She also had five birdies and two bogeys.

South Korea's Ji-Young Oh and Taiwan's Yani Tseng opened with 68s. Eva Dahllof shot a 69, and Pat Hurst, Gloria Park, Candie Kung and Eunjung Yi had 70s.

Meaghan Francella, a playoff winner last year over 2006 champion Annika Sorenstam, shot a 10-over 82. Playing alongside Ochoa, Francella had eight bogeys and a double bogey. Sorenstam is skipping the event, the first of three this year in Mexico.

ATT Champions Classic


Nick Price birdied the final hole for a 6-under 66 and a one-stroke lead over defending champion Tom Purtzer after the first round of the Champions Tour's ATT Champions Classic.

Price, winless in 17 career starts since joining the 50-and-over tour last year, topped a leaderboard for the first time 54 Champions Tour rounds. He won 18 times on the PGA Tour, including three major victories.

Purtzer, a playoff winner last year over Loren Roberts, had three birdies and an eagle for the only bogey-free round of the day. He also won the 2003 tournament.

Dana Quigley opened with a 68, Roberts and Graham Marsh shot 69s, and Fred Funk, Jerry Pate, Jeff Sluman, Vicente Fernandez, Andy Bean, Brad Bryant, Dave Stockton and Joe Ozaki had 70s. Gil Morgan, the 1996, 1997 and 2004 winner, shot a 73.

Ballantine's Championship

JEJU ISLAND, South Korea &

Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell shot an 8-under-par 64 in windy conditions to take a two-stroke lead halfway through the inaugural Ballantine's Championship, the first European tour event in South Korea.

McDowell had a 12-under 132 total. Sweden's Johan Edfors (65) and India's Jeev Milkha Singh (66) were tied for second. South Korean star K.J. Choi (69) was eight strokes back.

Play was suspended for more than two hours in the morning because of gusts. Forty-seven players were unable to complete the round.

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