Bayer Advantage Classic
Bayer Advantage Classic
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Rain cuts event to 36 holes

Tom Watson has only 18 holes to catch first-round leaders R.W. Eaks and Gil Morgan and win for the first time on his home turf, one of the few goals that has eluded the popular Kansas City native.

Rain washed out the second round Saturday at the Champion Tour's Bayer Advantage Classic, reducing the tourney to 36 holes for the second straight year. Officials said the same tee times would apply on Sunday, weather permitting.

Watson, who's come as close as second here since joining the Champions Tour full time in 2000, cut back his recent schedule to make sure he was strong and fully prepared for this year's tourney at the Nicklaus Golf Club at LionsGate, not far from his home.

He shot a 5-under 67 in the first round Friday, one of 15 golfers within three strokes of Eaks and Morgan.

It was the best opening round he's shot in Kansas City.

``I tried to keep a pretty steady pace this week, getting some good rest. This year I feel more rested,'' Watson said. ``You've got to do that when you're 55.''

Watson has always been adored in Kansas City. It was often joked that the city had three major league franchises -- the Chiefs, the Royals and Tom Watson.

Watson and baseball Hall of Famer George Brett are clearly the most beloved athletes in town. As he approached 50 and became eligible for the Champions Tour, Kansas City golf fans practically counted the days until he could play in their event.

He came within a stroke on his first try in 2000. A huge gallery that had followed him all day erupted when he birdied the final hole to tie Dana Quigley.

But Quigley answered with a 12-foot birdie putt to win by one stroke.

``The desire (to win here) has never left me,'' Watson said. ``It would be like George Brett winning the World Series in Kansas City. It would be very, very special to win here.''

He'll be paired on Sunday with Jack Nicklaus, who has suggested this could be his final tournament appearance in the United States. He's also reserved the right to play again, but that has not dimmed the enthusiasm of a large gallery that followed the pair around the course.

``I'm just standing back and letting the crowd say their final farewell to Jack,'' Watson said. ``I'm caught up in that, I have to admit.''


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