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Long day awaits leader Beckman

The preliminaries are over. Now the endurance test begins.

Cameron Beckman made five birdies and an eagle yesterday to take the lead after two rounds at the International with 23 points, one ahead of Billy Mayfair, Charles Howell, and Brandt Jobe.

Up today -- Rounds 3 and 4, a grueling 36 holes amid the tall pines, thin air, and steep hills at Castle Pines in Castle Rock, Colo., with a $900,000 first prize on the line.

''We're not out there hitting people and tackling people, but walking 36 holes on this golf course is not easy," Howell said. ''I think it's just as important to physically stay strong as it is mentally."

Also in the hunt are David Toms, who scored 12 points to bring his total to 18; Retief Goosen, who scored 12 points to get to 17; and Phil Mickelson, who had a 5-footer for eagle on 17, but three-putted to wind up with par. He scored 14 points to finish with 17.

Beckman got in contention when he holed out from the sixth fairway in his first round Friday for an eagle, worth 5 points in the modified Stableford scoring system. After grinding through his first nine holes yesterday, he made an eagle on the par-5 first for another 5 points, vaulting him toward the top of the leaderboard.

Beckman was in the lead heading into Sunday the last time the PGA Tour held a 36-hole finish, in September 2003 at the 84 Lumber Classic. He finished fifth.

Rain washed out play Thursday, forcing PGA Tour officials to try to cram four rounds into three days. To do it, they reduced the cut to 60 players and decided to play 36 holes today.

Champions -- At Blaine, Minn., Tom Purtzer fired a 3-under-par 69 to take a three-stroke lead after two rounds of the 3M Championship at the TPC of the Twin Cities.

Purtzer, who opened with a tournament record-tying 63, moved to 12-under 132 in chasing his second Champions Tour victory in 17 months.

Five players are tied for second at 9 under: Lonnie Nielsen (68), Bruce Lietzke (71), Craig Stadler (67), David Eger (68), and Hajime Meshiai (66). Defending champion Tom Kite is in a five-player logjam at 8 under after a second-round 69.

US Women's Amateur -- Morgan Pressel compensated for some shaky putting with a 92-yard eagle at No. 10 on her way to reaching the tournament final in Roswell, Ga.

Pressel, 17, the US Women's Open runner-up, ousted 16-year-old Angela Park, 3 and 1, and will face Venezuela's Maru Martinez today in 36 holes of match play at Settindown Creek Course. Martinez, a senior at Auburn, never relinquished the lead after she birdied No. 6 and earned a 4-and-3 victory over Australia's Alison Whitaker.

European PGA -- At Gleneagles, Scotland, Nicolas Colsaerts shot a 5-under 67, birdieing the 16th and 18th holes, to open up a two-stroke lead after three rounds of the Johnnie Walker Championship.

Ladies European -- Tournament host Annika Sorenstam birdied the last two holes for a 5-under 67 and one-stroke lead after three rounds of the Scandinavian TPC in Loddekopinge, Sweden.

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