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Perry surges to Hope lead with 66

Kenny Perry shot a 6-under-par 66 yesterday to go to 14 under and take the second-round lead at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic in La Quinta, Calif.

Phil Mickelson, playing his first tournament of the year after a disappointing 2003, had another good round, a 63 that left him one shot behind Perry.

Mickelson was the 2002 Hope champion, and Perry took the title in 1995 in the 90-hole event.

Kirk Triplett had a 65 and Skip Kendall a 68 and were tied with Mickelson at 13-under 131.

Perry, 43, is coming off his best year, with three victories, 11 finishes in the top 10, and $4.4 million to rank sixth on the earnings list.

"I used to always get frustrated trying to make things happen," said Perry. "I'm just letting it happen instead of trying to force it now." Patience helped him move into the Hope lead on a day when he wasn't hitting the ball straight.

"It was probably the best round I've ever played for as poor as I hit the ball," Perry said. "I kept hitting everything to the right. Thank goodness the mental side of my game was good."

Beginning the second round on the back nine at PGA West, he was just even par for the day when he curled in a tricky 8-foot birdie putt on No. 18.

That started him rolling.

Making a series of putts from 6-8 feet after the turn, he had five birdies and no bogeys on the front nine.

Mickelson, who hasn't won for some 18 months, was particularly pleased with his short game. "I'm very pleased with the progress of the first two rounds of the year," he said. "I feel like I've driven the ball very well, and I feel much more confident from 134 yards in, which last year was a point of dissatisfaction."

Four courses are used for the Hope. The first four days are a pro-am, then the field is trimmed to the 70 low-scoring pros and ties for Sunday's final round at PGA West.

European -- At Johannesburg, Denmark's Anders Hansen shot a 7-under 65 and shared the first-round lead of the Dunhill Championship with Scotland's Alan McLean and Germany's Marcel Siem.

Hansen, troubled by an injured right wrist, had seven birdies in a bogey-free round in damp conditions at the par-72, 7,118-yard Houghton Golf Club. Last year, he was part of a six-man playoff in the tournament, which was won by Mark Foster.

France's Raphael Jacquelin, Denmark's Soren Hansen, and France's Gregory Havret were one stroke off the lead at 6-under 66.

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