Trahan leads in Madison

Published 8:59 pm Friday, September 29, 2006

D.J. Trahan isn’t dreaming of chasing Tiger Woods or any of the PGA Tour’s top players as he competes in the Southern Farm Bureau Classic. He has a more important target — Omar Uresti at No. 125 on the money list.

Trahan, fighting to retain his full tour card with a top-125 finish on the money list, shot a 7-under 65 on Thursday to take a two-stroke lead on the Annandale Golf Club course. The 25-year-old former Clemson star entered the week 142nd with $474,242.

“I’m certainly hoping for some good things coming down to the last four weeks here,” said Trahan, who had eight birdies and a bogey.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Glen Day, Gabriel Hjertstedt and Nick Watney opened with 67s, and Brad Faxon, Jason Gore, Ted Purdy, Skip Kendall and Mathias Gronberg had 68s. Fifty-year-old Fred Funk, the 1998 and 2004 winner, topped a group at 69, and major champions David Duval, Lee Janzen and Mark Brooks were five strokes back after 70s.

Trahan and dozens of others are chasing Uresti, who has won $568,804 this season. Trahan is one of 18 players within $100,000 of him with four tournaments to go before the season-ending Tour Championship.

That might sound like a lot of money, but the winner Sunday will earn $540,000 from the $3 million purse. That’s enough to launch a player from the fringe into a comfortable position with just four more PGA Tour events left this season.

Uresti shot a 4-over 76 and was well aware of the stakes with several players behind him on the money list sitting in front of him on the scoreboard. He said he likely will only be eligible to play in Las Vegas during the stretch run and needs to place well this week to retain his ranking.

“You can’t really worry about what the other guys are doing,” Uresti said. “You can only worry about what you’re doing and whether what you’re doing is good enough. And the way things went today, it’s not good enough.”

The course yielded few birdies for golfers who played in the afternoon. Most of the low scores came during the morning round. Day started his round with four birdies through the first five holes and held on as the new Bermuda greens started to dry out under the Mississippi sun and a persistent wind. “In the old days, you just got a (yardage) number and you hit it at the pin,” Day said. “The ball wasn’t going to go anywhere, no matter what. You could hit a 3-wood at the pin.”

The tournament, playing opposite the American Express Championship in England, where the top players are this week, has drawn a stronger field than usual, thanks in part to the new greens.

There are 13 former major winners in the field and the 132 golfers who started Thursday morning have won more than 220 tournaments.

Some of the bigger names struggled.

Defending champion Heath Slocum shot a 77. He had two double bogeys, four bogeys and three birdies. Last year, he closed with rounds of 64 and 66 to beat Loren Roberts and Carl Pettersson.