Steve Lowery chipped onto the ninth green yesterday, on his way to an opening-round 65 at the FBR Open.
Lowery, Cejka lead FBR
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. » Steve Lowery shot a 6-under-par 65 in the morning and Alex Cejka matched it at nightfall to share the first-round lead at the FBR Open yesterday.
Lowery, winner of two PGA events but none since 2000, ran off four straight birdies on holes 14-17 on a par-71, 7,216-yard Tournament Players Championship course hardened by a record 106 days without rain.
Cejka, who was born in the Czech Republic but fled the violence there at age 9 with his family and became a German citizen, had six birdies without a bogey. Then, as darkness fell, he saved par on the 18th with a shot out of the sand that landed 2 feet from the pin.
"We were running to the tee box on the 18th to hit it because we didn't know when they were going to blow the horn," said Cejka, who played in the third-to-last group.
Brent Geiberger, James Driscoll, Jerry Smith and Bo Van Pelt were one back at 5-under 66.
Four golfers will finish their rounds this morning. Because of darkness, they were given the option to stop playing and resume today.
Sixteen were within two shots of Lowery and Cejka on a crowded leaderboard after a day of 468 birdies under calm, sunny skies, a far cry from the cold and wind that disrupted the first round of last year's event.
"I played here last year in the cold and wind, and it was a nightmare," said Driscoll, in his second year on the PGA Tour. "I think I shot 80 the first round. It's nice to come out to the desert and get some warm air and no wind."
Mark Calcavecchia, a three-time winner of what used to be called the Phoenix Open, was one of 12 at 4-under 67 after an erratic round of eight birdies and four bogeys, two of them on par-5s.
"The good news is I did make eight birdies, and eight birdies any day is good," Calcavecchia said, "so I've just got to eliminate the idiotic mistakes."
Defending champion Phil Mickelson shot a 2-under 69 and was four back. Vijay Singh had to chip in from 35 feet on the 18th hole to finish at even-par 71.
Driscoll would have had a share of the lead if not for a bogey on the par-4 18th. His tee shot landed in a fairway trap, and his blast out of the sand fell short of the green. He was left with a tricky, 7-foot par putt that lipped out of the cup.
Lowery mixed eight birdies with two bogeys.
"As far as the outcome of the tournament -- four rounds -- first day is not that significant," he said, "other than the fact it was a great day for me."
Lowery, who won the Sprint International in 1994 and Southern Farm Bureau Classic in 2000, credited his touch on the greens.
"I putted well all day," he said, "and it was encouraging. It always makes you feel good about your game when you're holing putts."
An announced crowd of 77,234 attended the first round of what is by far the best-attended event on the tour. The sometimes-rowdy throng will swell to more than 150,000 tomorrow.
Goosen leads, Woods close
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates » Retief Goosen shot an 8-under 64 to move into a three-way tie for the lead after the first round of the Dubai Desert Classic, with Tiger Woods three strokes behind.
Woods was 4 under after four holes, but slowed after that and was among a half-dozen players at 5-under 67. He is tied with Paul Casey, Nick Dougherty, Henrik Stenson, Niclas Fasth and Nick O'Hern.
Goosen was tied for the lead with Richard Green and Jamie Donaldson, and Jamie Lynn and Ross Bain were next at 6 under. Defending champion and three-time winner Ernie Els shot 68.
Scoring was easy yesterday, and Woods suggested it will stay that way at the Emirates Golf Club with light winds and temperatures in the low 80s expected over the four-day event.
McKay, Luna ahead in ANZ
GOLD COAST, Australia » Scotland's Mhairi McKay and Diana Luna of Italy both shot 5-under 67s to share the lead after the opening round of the ANZ Ladies Masters.
McKay, the 2003 Australian Open winner, had five birdies on the front nine and seven overall, but fell back to the pack with bogeys on the 16th and 18th holes.
Finland's Jenni Kuosa is third after shooting a 68. Five others are at 3 under, including 40-year-old transsexual golfer Mianne Bagger, who made a professional debut at Royal Pines last year.
Defending champion Karrie Webb and Japan's Ai Miyazato were four shots off the pace after opening rounds of 71.