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Daly-Holmes, Leonard-Verplank share Shootout lead

NAPLES, Fla. -- Long-hitters John Daly and J.B. Holmes and
the distance-challenged duo of Justin Leonard and Scott Verplank
shot 9-under 63s on Friday to share the first-round lead in the
Merrill Lynch Shootout.

"I mean, for us, if one of us hits a decent drive, it's going
to be out there far enough," Daly said after the modified
alternate shot round on the Tiburon course.

Holmes, a rookie who won the FBR Open this year, finished second
in the tour's driving distance stats at 318.8 yards.

"I think this is the more difficult format of all the three,
but … this is the one I thought if we could just hang in there
and play well, we could definitely excel in the other formats, and
we played great," Holmes said.

The 12 teams will play a best-ball round Saturday and finish the
Greg Norman-hosted event Sunday with a scramble.

Jerry Kelly and Rod Pampling opened with a 64. Brad Faxon-J.J. Henry, Mark O'Meara-Jeff Sluman and Trevor Immelman-
Rory Sabbatini
shot 66s. Pampling replaced Peter Jacobsen, who underwent hip
replacement surgery.

The featured foursome of Norman and partner Nick Faldo, and
Annika Sorenstam and Fred Couples struggled. Sorenstam, the first
female player in the Shootout's 18 years, and Couples shot a 71,
and Norman and Faldo had a 72 -- leaving the teams 11th and 12th.

Daly and Holmes made their move on a six-hole stretch starting
at the par-3 12th. Holmes hit a 7-iron, then Daly made a 12-footer.
On No. 13, a par 4, Daly drove it to the back of the green, while
Holmes was a bit short of it. Daly nearly made the eagle putt, then
Holmes knocked in a 2-footer for birdie.

On the par-5 14th, Daly hit a 5-iron from 225 yards to 20 feet
and Holmes made the eagle putt -- the only one of five eagle attempts
the twosome had. Holmes hit his approach on No. 15 to a foot. On
No. 16, Daly sank a 12-footer for birdie. Holmes hit a 6-iron to 20
feet on No. 17, but Daly's eagle putt rolled over the edge.

Both Daly and Holmes both had 370-yard drives. Daly's was on the
par-4 13th, and Holmes' on the next hole to set up Daly's 225-yard,
5-iron shot.

Leonard finished 154th in the driving distance stats at 282.3
yards, while Verplank was 186th at 276.1. However, Verplank was
third in driving accuracy and Leonard 45th. Holmes was 187th and
Daly 190th.

"Those two boys, they make more putts than anybody I've ever
seen besides Tiger Woods," Daly said. "Both of those guys are
such straight hitters, they're both great players, and they can
both putt."

The two teams will paired together Saturday.

"You can probably see pretty much two different styles, ways to
play golf," Leonard said. "You know we're going to be hitting. I
imagine we'll be hitting first [from the fairway] on most of the
par 4s and par 5s. We just hope we get to hit our share of tee
shots first."