No local edge for McLachlin


POSTED: Friday, January 09, 2009

KAPALUA, Maui » Parker McLachlin put a cough drop in his mouth minutes after signing his scorecard, trying to fight off a bad cold.

Birdieing two of his final three holes to shoot a 4-over 77 during yesterday's opening round of the Mercedes-Benz Championship helped a little. But a pair of double bogeys kept him from shooting the round he had hoped for going into the first event on the PGA Tour.

“;I felt like I was in the clouds all day,”; McLachlin said. “;I was trying to shake the rust off and finally felt like I was playing better with those two birdies (including one at the last). I hit a couple of bad shots and they hurt me. Sometimes you can do that and get away with it, but not today.”;

McLachlin is making his first appearance in the winners-only event. Hoping to capitalize on his local knowledge of the famed Plantation Course, McLachlin got into trouble early with a bogey at the par-3 third, another at the par-5 sixth and then the first of two doubles at the difficult par-3 eighth.

“;It was a rough day,”; McLachlin said, “;but a beautiful walk. I've had better rounds here. But the two birdies are something I can build on.”;

After shooting 40 on the front, McLachlin double-bogeyed the par-4 14th to briefly land in last place in the 33-man field, but birdies at Nos. 16 and 18 helped ease the pain.

“;I'm looking forward to coming out (today) and playing better,”; McLachlin said. “;I've got a little cold, but I'll be fine.”;


Imada on a roll

Ryuji Imada was struggling, sitting at 2 over after 5 holes, but what he did afterward made him quickly forget his slow start. With a 3 at the par-4 sixth, Imada began a streak of seven consecutive birdies, falling one short of tying the PGA Tour record when he missed a 15-footer at the par-4 13th.

Imada was briefly tied for the lead at 5 under for the tournament with the par, but just as quickly fell back into the pack with back-to-back bogeys at Nos. 14 and 15. He shot a 4-under 69 to tie for fifth, just two shots off the pace set by leader Geoff Ogilvy.

Several golfers have birdied eight consecutive holes, with Jerry Kelly turning the trick most recently in 2003 at the Las Vegas Invitational. The former Sony Open winner finished ninth in that event.


Foreigners rule

Ogilvy will try to become the eighth consecutive foreign winner at the Mercedes Championship dating to Sergio Garcia's victory in 2002. Others in that win streak include Daniel Chopra (2008), Vijay Singh (2007), Stuart Appleby (2004-06) and Ernie Els in 2003. The last American to win this event was Jim Furyk in 2001.


Florida vs. Oklahoma

Anthony Kim sported an Oklahoma hat on his head as be began his opening round yesterday in this elite 33-man field. He was paired with Camilo Villegas, who attended the University of Florida. Villegas wore no Gator paraphernalia in yesterday's windy conditions, but was pleased with the 24-14 Gators national championship win.

Kim got the last laugh, however, as he opened with a 2-under 71. Villegas fired a ho-hum 1-over 74. It was the first time either had toured the Plantation Course.