AVONDALE, La. (AP) — Briny Baird really wanted to go fishing Monday. That’s his usual routine at the Zurich Classic, but bad weather kept him off the water.
Now good golf will keep him on dry land this weekend.
Baird shot a 3-under 69 on Friday in the second round to take a one-stroke lead over Peter Lonard (70) and Jay Williamson (69) at the TPC Louisiana.
“It didn’t feel quite as good as probably the scorecard will make out,” Baird said. “I didn’t play as well today. My swing felt a little loose at times, but to get in with a 3 under, I was very pleased.”
Baird birdied the final two holes. Good enough to keep him on the golf course this weekend rather than in a boat.
“I screwed that up,” Baird joked.
Bubba Watson, playing alongside Steve Elkington and Shigeki Maruyama, blamed Elkington for making noise while he was teeing off. The incident happened on the 10th tee and the trio left the course after the round without shaking hands.
“I heard some movement, and who knows what it was,” Watson said. “I was just over the ball, and just trying to make the cut and trying to play better and not getting the right breaks. I was already mad for the day, and I just took it out on them, and I shouldn’t have.”
Tournament director Arvin Ginn said the incident was resolved quickly at the scoring area.
“In the heat of the battle these players, they’re very high-keyed at this point in time, and nobody can say it any better than Bubba said it a little while ago,” Ginn said. “He gave a total apology to the media, total apology to the tournament, to the players, to anyone that might have seen or heard any part of it.”
Watson said he felt he and Elkington settled the matter.
“We hugged it out,” Watson said. “Everything is good. He’s not mad. He’s looking at me like a son basically because I’m a lot younger than him. He just took me aside and said, ‘Be stronger in what you’re doing and make sure you don’t do that.”‘
Watson shot a 69 to finish at 2-under 142. Elkington (71) was in a group of players tied for sixth at 5 under.
Baird is making his 254th career start on the tour without a victory. His best finishes were a tie for second at the 2001 John Deere Classic, and ties for second at the 2003 Buick Open and 2004 Funai Classic.
Baird has made the cut in seven of nine tournaments this year. He hopes that has taught him how to handle weekend play.
“If I go out there and can stay focused on what I’m doing and play each shot, then that’s the hardest part about this game,” he said. “You know, all that talk about it’s 90 percent mental, I think that’s a load of you-know-what. I think it’s 99 percent mental.”
Williamson — who played much of the last two seasons on the Nationwide Tour — birdied the first hole and added birdies on No. 7, 11 and 15. A bogey on 12 prevented him from catching Baird.
“I’ve got to putt better,” said Williamson, who iced his right shoulder after the round. “I’ve got to be more confident with my stroke.”
Lonard followed up an opening 67 with the 70 on Friday. At one point, he was 10 under with a four-shot lead, but that was before bogeys on 15, 17 and 18.
“The first one was just up against the face and I had to chip it out sideways,” Lonard said. “The one on 18 was about 80 to 100 yards off-line, so I suppose I deserve that one. You’ve got to hit fairways, that’s the name of the game.”
Defending champ Nick Watney (67) was two strokes back at 6 under.
“I played a nice round to get back in the tournament,” Watney said. “Hopefully I’ll keep it going on the weekend.”
Eighty-one players made the cut at even-par 144. Under the tour’s revised cut policy, the field will be cut to the low 70 players and ties after the third round.