Swede at home in mountains, leads The International

Friday, August 11, 2006

Mathias Gronberg can't think of a better setting than Castle Pines Golf Course in Castle Rock, Colo., to chase his first PGA Tour triumph.

The majestic mountain layout and high elevation remind him of the Alpine Course at Crans-sur-Sierre in Switzerland, where he registered his first win as a pro at the 1995 Canon European Masters.

"It's the same format: high up in the mountains, you hit the ball a long way," Gronberg said Thursday after taking the first-round lead at the International, the PGA Tour's most novel event.

Playing at 6,300 feet and using the modified Stableford scoring system, two factors that reward big hitters and aggressiveness, Gronberg scored 13 points to lead Stuart Appleby, Stewart Cink, John Senden and 2001 champion Tom Pernice Jr. by two and Danny Ellis, Jeff Brehaut and Patrick Sheehan by three.

"Obviously, I hit the ball long here, which is kind of a bonus. And then I like the way they set up the golf course. Then, I just like being up in high altitude it seems like," said Gronberg, who had eight birdies and one double-bogey.

Gronberg, 36, who grew up in Stockholm, Sweden, and lives in Monaco, finished ninth at Castle Pines in 2004. His best finish on the PGA Tour is fourth at the Shell Houston Open this year.

David Howell was at 12 and threatening Gronberg's standing atop the leadership until he teed off into the water and double-bogeyed his final hole, costing him three points.

The modified Stableford at the International awards two points for a birdie, five for an eagle and eight for a double eagle. One point is subtracted for a bogey, three points for a double bogey or worse.

LPGA Tour

Angela Stanford had eight birdies in a bogey-free 64 that matched the lowest round in the history of the Canadian Women's Open.

The 64 in ideal conditions on the tree-lined London Hunt and Country Club course in London, Ontario, tied the record held by 11 other players.

Cristie Kerr, coming off a second-place tie Sunday in the Women's British Open, matched Vicki Goetze-Ackerman and Jee Young Lee at 67, and Canadian star Lorie Kane was another stroke back along with defending champion Meena Lee and Il Mi Chung.

U.S. Women's Amateur

Jennie Lee, who helped Duke to a national championship this year, advanced to the quarterfinal round of the U.S. Women's Amateur with a victory over Sydnee Michaels.

Lee, a member of the U.S. team that won the Curtis Cup, defeated Michaels, an incoming freshman at UCLA, 2 and 1. Lee never trailed on the sunny but windy Witch Hollow course at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club west of Portland.

Lee was the lone remaining member of the Curtis Cup team that advanced to the quarterfinals. The U.S. won the biennial competition against a team from Britain and Ireland last month at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort on the southern Oregon coast.

She was among eight winners who advanced to Friday's quarterfinal round. The 36-hole championship will be played Sunday.

Earlier in the day, Lee defeated Curtis Cup teammate Paige Mackenzie, the medalist in stroke play qualifying.

-- The Associated Press

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