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Two Share Lead in Puerto Rico Open
Australia's Matt Jones and American George McNeill carded 6-under 66s to take a share of the lead after the first round of the Puerto Rico Open. The $3.5 million PGA Tour event began Thursday at Trump International Golf Club in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico.
Jones, a 31-year-old from Sydney who attended Arizona State, carded an eagle on the par-5 second hole and a birdie on No. 9 for a 3-under 33 on the front nine. On the back, he added four more birdies and a bogey for another 33.
He was pleased with how he hit the ball. "Keys were ball striking, I think," Jones noted later. "I had unbelievable ball-striking. I think I was pin-high every hole except 17, when I wanted to be a bit short of it, then I made good putts, had a good eagle on 1 to get started and had a great day.
"I've been making adjustments," he added. "My putting was terrible last year and at the start of this year, and I worked hard on it last week and finally figured it out so I feel normal like I did in 2010."
McNeill, a 36-year-old Floridian, fired three birdies on the back nine and three more on the home half. McNeill, who finished fifth in the tournament last year, enjoys playing in Puerto Rico. "Obviously coming in here and playing well and gettin' a little bit of confidence.
"I was in the 126 to 150 last year, so not a great category to be in. I had to take my starts where I got 'em, and fortunately this was my third event of the year, and it's just like Florida so it felt comfortable, and I happened to play well."
One stroke back is former British Open champion Ben Curtis, who had four birdies on the front side and another on the back. The 34-year-old Ohioan was pleased with how he managed his game on a blustery day on the Caribbean island. "With the windy conditions, the big thing is to keep the ball in play, keep it in the fairway and hitting a lot of greens and that's what I did.
"I just tried to make a lot of controlled swings and hit the ball solid and get it going in the right direction, and I hit a lot of quality shots and made a couple of putts," Curtis noted. "Could have made a lot more but hit it pretty well, I think hit 15 or 16 greens, and gave myself quite a few chances. It was a matter of keep doing that all day. Played on Tuesday and yesterday with the windy conditions, so I just found out, gotta hit the greens and give yourself chances."
Two strokes out of the lead are Americans Jeff Overton, Kevin Kisner, 2004 British Open champion Todd Hamilton and Daniel Summerhays. Kisner, a 27-year-old rookie from South Carolina who's missed four cuts in six starts this year, had four birdies on the day and the rest pars.
"Played solid, no bogeys and that wind is always good," Kisner told reporters. "I felt the course was set up very fair, with how much the wind was going to blow. They gave you opportunities to make birdies, they could have made it very difficult. I was pleased with no bogeys, didn't take advantage of the par-5s as much as I would like, but it was a solid round."
Two-time U.S. Open winner Lee Janzen was one of 13 players to post a 69 and be tied for eighth. The 47-year-old carded five birdies and a pair of bogeys. Janzen hit 83 percent of the greens in regulation Thursday and noted later that stat was the key to his round. "Being on the green a lot," he said. "So I had 15 greens? Yeah, 15 greens, so only missing three greens; unfortunately, the two bogeys I made were dumb, but that's golf.
"The one thing I've worked on a lot of things in my game, but the one stat that needs to improve the most is making putts from 3 feet to 10 feet, in that range. That seems to be the area the best players in the world are very good at. So I have not been doing well this year at that stat, I did better at that today, although I can be better, and that took me down in my score a bit."
Two-time Puerto Rico Open winner and defending champion Michael Bradley opened with an even-par 72.
For all the scores, visit http://www.pgatour.com/leaderboards/current/r483/.