Waldorf moves into Regions lead

Duffy Waldorf during the 2013 Principal Charity Classic in Des Moines, Iowa.

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Duffy Waldorf is hoping this early lead will culminate with a Sunday night celebration.

Waldorf shot a 4-under 68 on Friday to take a one-stroke lead over Jeff Sluman after the soggy, weather-delayed second round of the Regions Tradition, the second of five Champions Tour majors.

Waldorf had three birdies and a bogey on both the first nine holes and the last nine to top the Shoal Creek leaderboard at 9-under 135. The Champions Tour rookie led after two rounds last week in Iowa in the Principal Charity Classic, but closed with a 1-under 71 to tie for third.

Waldorf also led shared the first-round lead with Jay Haas two weeks ago at the Senior PGA Championship, but is hoping to finish in the top position this time.

"My friend was telling me, 'I don't really care if you're leading after the first or second round or even the third. Just lead after the fourth,'" he said. "It's not NASCAR, so I don't get extra points for how many laps I lead. But you've got to be near the top to have a chance and I'm really happy to be near the top."

Sluman, the first-round leader, had a 71.

Fred Couples, Mark Calcavecchia, Michael Allen and Canadian Rod Spittle were three strokes back. Couples had a 71, Calcavecchia and Allen shot 69, and Spittle had a 66.

Two-time defending champion Tom Lehman was 4 under after a 71. He made a double bogey on 17 and a bogey on 18 in fading light.

A four-time PGA Tour winner, Waldorf's only lead at the mid-point of a major came in the 2002 British Open. Waldorf, who was on No. 3 when play was halted Friday, tied for 18th that time.

Waldorf followed a 15-foot birdie putt on No. 5 with an 18-footer on the next hole. His highlight might have been the 30-plus footer on No. 12.

The Champions Tour major at Shoal Creek was delayed 3 hours, 13 minutes with lightning in the area, and there was a steady rain for much of that time. The players finished late in the evening with darkness approaching at 8:01 p.m.

"I thought it would be a longer delay," Waldorf said. "It really poured there for a while. We were looking outside and we were going, 'My gosh, it's going to take hours for the course to drain.' But we got back out pretty quick."

Sluman had an eagle on the par-5 third hole, two birdies and three bogeys after matching his best opening round score on the Champions Tour with a 65.

Given the conditions and his spot near the top of the leaderboard, Sluman wasn't fretting too much about a more mundane follow-up round to his opening score.

"I feel all right where I'm at," said Sluman, who won the Legends of Golf with Brad Faxon in April. "It's the best I can do. I signed my card correctly, I hope, at the end of the day. And I didn't shoot myself out of it, certainly. It's days like this that win you the tournaments as much as shooting a really low score.

"When you're just struggling a little bit, you're in between clubs, you're not making anything really happening and you don't go out and shoot 75 or 76, so I'm happy with that."

Couples managed all three of his birdies on the final eight holes but had two bogeys. He had near-misses on a couple of makeable birdie putts early.

"I hit way too many balls," Couples said. "I came out and practiced a little longer, and then we went out and hung out in the van and left the grounds to have lunch. I'm tired now, but I felt pretty good out there. I just couldn't hit the ball close enough, and when I did, I had some pretty good putts and I felt like I putted well but nothing went in."

Spittle, who is conditionally exempt this year, had five birdies and a bogey during a seven-hole stretch on the back nine. He won the 2010 AT&T Championship.

Brad Bryant, who has been bothered by foot problems, withdrew after the round ended.

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