Europeans lead in Texas
Far removed from the Ryder Cup matches this week in Ireland, Europeans Justin Rose and Alex Cejka shot 6-under 64s on Thursday to share the first-round lead in the Texas Open.
Rose, coming off three consecutive top-14 finishes, had eight birdies and two bogeys on the LaCantera Golf Club's Resort Course.
"I have been playing well the last three weeks, and I guess my one concern has been running out of steam and stuff like that," the 26-year-old Englishman said. "I'm back in the tournament from the word go."
After tying for fourth in the Deutsche Bank Championship, Rose had the third-round lead in the Canadian Open before closing with a 74 to tie 14th. He also tied for 14th last weekend in the 84 Lumber Classic.
"I could have certainly won coming into this tournament," Rose said. "The exciting thing for me is getting myself into position more and more and -- as the old adage goes -- the more you knock on the door it's going to open."
Rose was 5 under after sinking a 14-foot birdie putt on the par-4 fourth, his 13th hole of the day. He three-putted the next hole for bogey before finishing his round with birdies at Nos. 7 and 9.
Bob Burns, Ted Purdy, David McKenzie and D.A. Points opened with 65s, and Dean Wilson, Shigeki Maruyama, Charley Hoffman and Cameron Beckman followed with 66s. Justin Leonard, the 2000 and 2001 winner, was three strokes back at 67 along with Bob Tway, Ryan Palmer, Frank Lickliter II, David Duval, Richard S. Johnson and Ryan Hietala.
Cejka, a 35-year-old Czech-born German, had a bogey-free round. He had his second career runner-up finish in the 2004 International, but injured his back 15 months ago in a jet-skiing accident.
"Basically, the second half of last year I was playing hurt," said Cejka, who tied for third in the John Deere Classic in July. "But I was ready at the beginning of this season and I'm playing better than my results have shown."
Cejka missed just two greens in regulation and hit all but three fairways.
"It's easier when you hit straight drives and good irons," he said. "The longest birdie putt I had was 25 feet. The rest, I hit it pretty close."
Purdy, who missed seven straight cuts before finishing fourth last week in the 84 Lumber Classic, had four straight birdies in the middle of his round.
"Then I turned into the wind," Purdy said.
McKenzie, a PGA Tour rookie from Australia, birdied four of his final five holes.