Golf-Armour and Estes retain lead at rainy Tesoro

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MIAMI, Oct 27 (Reuters) Tommy Armour III birdied his last two holes to retain a share of the lead with fellow American Bob Estes in the weather-hit Ginn sur Mer Classic second round at Port St Lucie, Florida yesterday.

Armour rolled in a 25-footer at the eighth before tapping in from inside two feet at the ninth for a five-under-par 68, joining Estes on 14-under 132 at a rain-drenched Tesoro Club.

Estes also birdied his final hole for a 68, draining a nine-footer at the par-four 18th to stay in the hunt for his fifth PGA Tour title.

Heavy afternoon showers swept across the course, forcing play to be suspended with 64 golfers yet to complete the second round in the penultimate Tour event of the season.

''It was more of the same for the most part, I probably hit it a little closer yesterday overall,'' Estes told reporters, referring to his nine-birdie 64 in the opening round.

''After a quick turnaround from last night to this morning, you definitely would like a lot more rest before having to get up and do it again so soon. But with the fairways soft and the greens soft you still can make a lot of birdies.'' For the second day in a row, players were allowed to lift, clean and replace golf balls on the fairways because of the wet, muddy conditions.

DROPPING BALLS ''It's hard to find places to drop the balls besides the water,'' Armour said after a round featuring an eagle-three at the 16th, four birdies and one bogey. ''It's wet and the course is not going to dry out, either.'' The 48-year-old, a winner of just two titles on the PGA Tour since turning professional in 1981, is delighted to be in contention.

''We play golf to win tournaments and I'm excited whenever I have a chance to win,'' he said. ''I work as hard as anybody out here but when I have fun, I have fun.'' Swede Daniel Chopra, helped by four consecutive birdies from the par-four sixth, shot a sparkling 66 to climb into third spot at 13 under.

That left him three ahead of Australian rookie Michael Sim (67) and Americans Steve Lowery (66) and Sean O'Hair (68).

Lowery signed off in style, holing out from 113 yards at the ninth for an eagle two.

The halfway cut was projected to fall at one-under 145. Among those likely to miss out were former major champions Shaun Micheel and Larry Mize.

REUTERS SZ PM0450

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