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Sluman, Byrd share lead at Chrysler Championship

PALM HARBOR, Fla. — Jeff Sluman and Jonathan Byrd were tied for the lead at the Chrysler Championship, both knowing the tournament really doesn't start until the weekend.

For Paul Azinger, Olin Browne and a host of others, their season ended Friday.

Sluman was eight shots worse than his course-record 62 in the opening round, missing a half-dozen good looks at birdie but still playing solidly from tee to green for a 1-under 70. Byrd blitzed the back nine for the second straight day and shot another 66. "Some days it's easy, and some days it's a little more difficult," said Sluman, who never had the lead to himself in the second round and wound up tied with Byrd at 10-under 132.

In the final full-field tournament of the year, perhaps it was no surprise that the top five guys already have their cards locked up for next year, with no worries about where they are on the money list.

Vijay Singh, moving closer to a $10 million year, had a 69 and was only two shots behind. Also at 8-under 134 was International winner Rod Pampling (65) and Tommy Armour III (64), exempt through 2005 for his record-setting victory last year in the Texas Open."You certainly shouldn't be surprised to see Vijay up there," Sluman said of the No. 1 player in golf who is going for his sixth victory in his last eight starts.

The real shock was Azinger, one of several players who had their bubbles burst at Innisbrook.

Azinger is No. 123 on the money list and opened with a 75. He played hard and got to 1 under, seemingly safe to make the cut at even par. But he missed the green on the par-3 8th, his 17th hole, and took a bogey.