Eight tied atop leaderboard in Milwaukee event

Friday, July 23, 2004

MILWAUKEE -- Only one other time has a PGA Tour leaderboard been this crowded after an opening round.

Eight golfers shot 5-under 65s Thursday and were tied for the lead at the U.S. Bank Championship, formerly known as the Greater Milwaukee Open.

Another 10 golfers were one shot back.

"A lot of people, a lot of golf (left)," said Danny Briggs, who was tied for first with Todd Fischer, Bo Van Pelt, Brett Quigley, Patrick Sheehan, Brian Kortan, Robert Gamez and Olin Browne.

The Honda Classic in 2000 had the only other eight-way tie for first after one round, according to the PGA Tour, which began keeping such statistics in 1970.

The crowds seemed a bit sparse -- many fans might be following the lead of some corporate sponsors and saving their money for next month's PGA Championship at nearby Whistling Straits.

But the field is a little deeper this year, and the course at Brown Deer Park is beefed up, as well. The greens are firmer than normal and the notoriously deep rough is nastier than ever.

Among those 66 were Paul Azinger, who called this "a mini-U.S. Open," and Jerry Kelly, who described it best when he said the rough he encountered on No. 15 was "a bird's nest in a hawk's nest."

The firm greens and deep rough have put some teeth into the famously mild par-70 layout that measures 6,759 yards, one of the shortest on the PGA Tour. It puts a premium on iron play and putting while neutralizing the long hitters.

An unusually wet spring and summer contributed to the thick rough.

"It's nasty, but I didn't experience much of it," said Kortan, who found himself in the rough just once.

Gamez was in the rough twice, on the par-3 14th, when he chipped in from 30 feet for birdie, and again on 18, when he missed a birdie putt that would have given him the outright lead.

Australian pair leads Irish Open after first round

Australians Nick O'Hern and Peter Lonard shot 8-under-par 64s Thursday and shared the first-round lead at the Irish Open at Baltray in Drogheda, Ireland.

O'Hern, who failed to qualify for last week's British Open, started at the 10th and was just 2-under after nine holes. But he played the front of the 7,031-yard links on Ireland's east coast in 6-under with an eagle and four birdies.

Lonard missed the cut at the Open and visited an eye surgeon in London on Monday to correct a problem resulting from laser surgery several years ago. The visit was a success.

The Australian pair led by two shots over Stephen Gallacher of Scotland, Simon Wakefield of England and another Australian, Brett Rumford.

The Irish favorites who have played this course regularly since they were teenagers were well off the pace, with the exception of Peter Lawrie, who shot 67. Darren Clarke and Padraig Harrington each had 70.

Four tied for lead at Senior British Open

Dan Pooley was among four golfers to shoot a 69 in the first round Thursday at the Senior British Open at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland.

Eduardo Romero of Argentina, John Chillas of Scotland and Jim Rhodes of England joined the American in first place.

Two golfers -- Ian Mosey and Carl Mason, both of England -- were at 70 and a group of five, includng Tom Kite and Bruce Fleisher, shot 71s.

-- From wire reports

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