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Birdie holes are plentiful in the desert

LA QUINTA, Calif. -- When Mark Wilson got to 8 under through 11 holes on the Palmer Private course Friday, he seriously discussed golf's magic number with playing partner Harrison Frazar, who once shot a 59 on another Humana Challenge course.

"I don't know why the conversation went there but I thought about it," Wilson said.

Wilson ended up posting the lowest score of his career, and that 62 wasn't even the best round of the day in the desert. Bob Hope's name is no longer on this reformatted tournament, but its tradition of stunningly low scores is still going strong.

Wilson pulled even with Ben Crane and David Toms at 16-under 128 to share a three-stroke lead after the second round of the Humana Challenge on Friday, topping a leader board covered with bogey-free rounds and personal bests.

Extremely low numbers always dominate the erstwhile Bob Hope Classic, which features two of the PGA Tour's three easiest courses. Add a second day of ideal Palm Springs weather, and exceptional play is necessary just to stay in contention.

For example, Ryan Moore tied the Nicklaus course record with a 61, yet he was still five strokes back of the lead -- and he wasn't even among 23 players who played bogey-free rounds Friday.

"Everything has been much improved, and we got a much better field because of it," said Crane, who had just 48 putts in his first two rounds. "This is a great place for players to start their year, because it's like playing indoors."

To illustrate his point, Crane mimed his caddie picking grass blades and dropping them from shoulder height.

"I'm like, 'Where's the wind?' " Crane said. "He's like, 'I don't know.' I'm like, 'OK, let's just hit a normal shot here.' "

Crane shot a 63 on the three-course tournament's Palmer Private course, and Toms had a 65 on the Nicklaus Private course. Rookie Harris English had a 62 on the Nicklaus Private course to join five players in fourth place at 13 under.

"That's what you've got to do out here," said English, the University of Georgia graduate playing his sixth round on the PGA Tour. "Put it in the fairway and then try to go out and get after it. I was getting my putter hot, and it was a lot of fun."

Moore tied Charlie Wi's 2009 record on the Nicklaus course despite starting with consecutive bogeys on his second and third holes before an eagle on the fourth. He then birdied 11 of 12 holes, including six straight around the turn.

"Really the last thing I remember was being 2 over through three, and then I just walked off the 18th hole," said Moore, who rose 103 spots on the leader board.

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Lehman, Vaughan lead

KAUPULEHU-KONA, Hawaii -- Tom Lehman and Bruce Vaughan shot 7-under 65 on Friday to share the first-round lead in the Champions Tour's season-opening Mitsubishi Electric Championship.

Lehman, the player of the year last season on the 50-and-over tour, birdied the final hole at Hualalai Resort to match Vaughan at the top of the leaderboard.

Brad Faxon, Loren Roberts, Corey Pavin, Jay Haas, Dan Forsman and Michael Allen were a stroke back.

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