HONOLULU (AP) -- For Paul Azinger, winning the Sony Open would finally end his bridesmaid role in Hawaii.
He still has 36 holes to go, but his 12-under 128 is good enough for a five-stroke lead over three other golfers -- John Huston, Jim Furyk and Stuart Appleby.
Azinger shot a 5-under 65 in Friday's second round at the Waialae Country Club, despite what he described as a less-than-an-average round.
''I'm really surprised,'' Azinger said. ''It didn't feel that good.''
He'll have to be on his game if he's going to avoid what's befallen him in what was then the Hawaiian Open. He finished second three times and in the Top 10 on five other occasions.
Two of the three players in a position to challenge him in the $2.9 million event are familiar with the 6,070-yard oceanside course, having won the Hawaiian Open.
Huston set a PGA Tour record when he posted a 28-under-par total in 1998, and Furyk took the title in 1996.
Defending champion Jeff Sluman is at 134 with Jerry Kelly, Vijay Singh and Chris DiMarco. Larry Mize jumped into contention with a 63 to join Ernie Els, Sean Murphy, Neal Lancaster, Scott Dunlap, Jesper Parnevik and Chris Riley at 135.
Gary Nicklaus, making his PGA Tour debut on a sponsor's exemption, shot a 70 to reach the midway mark at 1-under 139.
The cut was placed at par 140 with 74 players advancing to the final 36 holes. Two Japan PGA Tour players made the cut with Shigeki Maruyama at 136 and Kaname Yokoo at 138.
''I've been in this position before,'' Azinger said in not trying to look beyond today's round.
''Winning here would mean as much to me as all the guys behind me, I'm sure,'' he said. ''If I don't win, I'll feel secure, I'll be in the place I'm supposed to be. I'm willing to accept whatever happens. I'm at a point I believe everything happens for a reason.''
Although he is five shots behind the leader, Furyk said he and the other challengers are in good positions because of their familiarity with the course.
''I'm not going to be upset with my position,'' he said. ''Paul is distancing himself from the rest of us, but I can't worry about how he is playing. I just have to get my game going.
''Just because the course fits your game doesn't mean you'll play well. You still have to show up and play well.''
Going into the money rounds, Huston sounded a warning.
''There are certain tournaments during the year that I look forward to,'' he said. ''I feel I don't have to play my best to do well. This is one of them. I really like the course. You have to keep the ball down and you don't have to drive it really far.
''It's still basically the same course. It's a mental thing now.''
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