Billy Mayfair rode a roller coaster round Friday right back to where he began, narrowly clinging to his Nissan Open lead.
Mayfair started the day 6-under and one shot in front. After five bogeys and five birdies, he finished the second round with a par 71, leaving him 6-under and still the leader by one shot.
Payne Stewart, with a 67, and Tommy Armour III, with a 68, moved into a tie for second. Also at 5-under was Stephen Ames, who was alone in second after the opening round and matched par on the second day.
Tiger Woods, who started the tournament with a 68, had a 73 to fall five shots off the pace.
On a windy day that often made club selection a guessing game, Mayfair went to 9-under on two different occasions but gave it back by bogeying three of his final four holes.
Rick Fehr, with a 67, and Scott Hoch, with a 71, were just two shots behind Mayfair, and a total of 23 players were within five shots or closer.
Defending champion Nick Faldo, who shot a 73 the first day, had a 70 to go to 1-over, seven shots behind.
Fred Couples, who had a 73, and Phil Mickelson, who ballooned to 76, also were at 1-over through 36 holes at Valencia Country Club.
Mayfair, who won twice and finished second to Greg Norman on the money list in 1995 and has been in a slump since, was coasting along at 9-under when he hooked his drive into a bunker on his 15th hole of the day, No. 6, and wound up with a bogey.
He three-putted from 25 feet for another bogey on the next hole. After a par on No. 8, he missed the ninth green and went into the shaggy rough, then finally missed an 8-foot putt that would have saved par.
Stewart, who also hasn't won since 1995, had six birdies and two bogeys to move up to second. Armour, whose only victory came in 1990, had a steadier round, bogeying just one hole and making four birdies.
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