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Mayfair shares Michelob lead

KINGSMILL, Va., Oct. 4 (UPI) -- Billy Mayfair pushed aside the struggles of this season and the thoughts of personal tragedies to record his best round of the year Friday.

Mayfair fired an 8-under-par 63 on Friday and grabbed a share of the lead after the second round of the Michelob Championship.

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David Duval, the champion here in 1997-98, shot a 2-under-par 69 to join Mayfair atop the leaderboard with a 9-under-par 133 after 36 holes.

Mayfair's stunning round, which featured eight birdies and no bogeys, certainly was unexpected. The 36-year-old missed the cut in three of his four previous outings and has recorded just two top-10 finishes in 27 events.

But despite his season-long struggles, Mayfair managed to register his best round since posting a final round 61 at the 2001 Buick Open.

"Best putting round of the year, probably my best iron play round of the year," Mayfair said. "I'm driving the ball well this year. I just haven't hit my irons close enough to the hole. It doesn't matter how good or bad you're putting. If you're putting 35 or 40 feet from the hole, you're not get to make a lot of putts."

The Arizona native exhibited his improved iron play by registering a birdie at all four par-3s. On the second hole, Mayfair left himself with a 20-foot putt after hitting a 5-iron from 205 yards. But on No. 5, he landed another 5-iron tee shot six feet away.

At the 180-yard 13th and the 170-yard 17th, Mayfair left himself birdie putts of eight and five feet.

Mayfair's round was all the more remarkable considering his need to block out recollections of past off-course tragedies at Kingsmill.

"My history here the last couple of years has been real scary," Mayfair said. "My dad had a heart attack here three years ago, was in the hospital. And then last year, my wife's grandfather passed away on the Friday of the tournament.

"Between there, too, my wife had a migraine and I had to take her to the hospital. So I know a lot of the doctors who are members here."

Mayfair last led through 36 holes at the 1998 Nissan Open, which he went on to win. However, his best finish at Williamsburg has been a sixth-place tie in 1998, when Duval successfully defended his title.

Duval, who fired a 64 on Thursday, posted his lowest two-round total of the year. The member of the United States Ryder Cup team bounced back after bogeying the opening two holes.

Hidemichi Tanaka, who recorded his first top-10 finish of the season just three weeks ago, is one shot of the pace. Entering this week, the Japanese player's best position through 36 holes was sixth at the Greater Hartford Open and Tampa Bay Classic.

A half-dozen players were two shots back, including Charles Howell III, who posted a 6-under 65 on Friday.

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