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Wacky day at WACO

August 15, 2004|by TIM KOELBLE

koelble@herald-mail.com

Kenny Smith has a chance to join the list of players with multiple championships in the WACO Open golf tournament.

All he has to do today is fend off a host of challengers in the 21st WACO tourney to add the 2004 crown to the one he captured in 2002.

Smith, of Waynesboro, Pa., used a steady driver and fought through a 35-putt performance to post a 3-under-par 69 Saturday, good for a two-stroke lead over Seth Moul, Ken Kasai, David Barr and John Kingora and a three-shot margin over Ken Lampard.

That group is followed by five golfers four shots back, including defending champion Kevin Reiber, Steve Caron, Seiji Hirai, David Healey and Dennis Stoner.

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"I had good distance for shot selection today," Smith said. "I just didn't have good speed on my putts."

Smith, who stands but 5-foot-6, was using a new Taylor Made 510 TourX driver and constantly left himself in position for easy course management which was a goal of his entering the first round.

"I wanted to par the 3s and 4s and birdie the 5s," Smith said. "That's what will be my game plan Sunday."

Smith birdied the two par 5s on the front nine on No. 2 from 500 yards and No. 9 from 495 and then closed out his round when he knocked down a birdie on the par 4 18th. He went through his round without a bogey.

"These were ideal weather conditions," Smith said. "If it rains overnight it could become a factor. But I'll still come out with my game plan. There is a lot of talent behind me and the kids that are there just keep getting better.

Barr got off to a rousing start when he birdied No. 1 and eagled No. 2 to go 3-under immediately. Kingora had five birdies in his round but also posted four bogies.

Moul posted two birdies, both on par 5s and had one bogey and Kasai, after a 1-over 37 on the front nine reeled off four straight birdies on 11 through 14.

Reiber had an opportunity to be in a better position but his putter wouldn't cooperate much, lipping out birdie putts on 14, 15, 17 and 18.

"The greens were slower than I thought they would be," Reiber said. "I hit the ball solid but couldn't make any putts. But I'm happy and if I can come out and shoot a 69, or 70, get a number posted, then I could be in a good position. I'd like to get to 1-under by the turn."

Last year when Reiber and Smith were in the final pairing, Reiber held off several challenges down the stretch from at least five different golfers, including those from Smith.

Smith will face the same firepower today when he tees off at 1:50 in a threesome with Moul and Kasai.

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