Nitties, Duke share lead at Byron Nelson Classic

Friday, May 22, 2009

Fun-loving PGA Tour rookie James Nitties can get serious, too.

While not shy about his tour bio that lists his special interests as clubbing, girls and movies, the 26-year-old Australian is trying to stay focused on a stretch of tournaments that could culminate with a spot in the U.S. Open.

"It's not easy, but I just made an executive decision where I have to play well over the next five weeks," Nitties said. "It's not just fun and games out here."

Nitties finished with four consecutive birdies for a 5-under 65 Thursday to share the first-round lead at the HP Byron Nelson Championship in Irving, Texas, with Ken Duke, another surprise at the top of the leaderboard.

Duke snapped a streak of 11 consecutive rounds in the 70s to share the first-round lead for only the second time in his 118 career starts. His putt at No. 18 stopped 3 inches from the hole, or he could have had another birdie and the lead alone.

Mike Weir, Scott McCarron, Charles Howell III and Brad Adamonis shot 66s, and Jesper Parnevik and Tommy Armour III were among a group of a dozen players with 67s.

Defending champion Adam Scott started with consecutive bogeys and went on to a 71.

Champions Tour

Scott Hoch bogeyed the final two holes for a 4-under 66 and share of the first-round lead with Tom Purtzer in the 70th Senior PGA Championship, the first major of the year for the over-50 set.

Their 66s matched the lowest competitive score at Canterbury Golf Club in Beachwood, Ohio, which joined Oak Hill in Rochester, N.Y., as the only course to host all five of the premier U.S. men's championships played at rotating sites.

Bernhard Langer, a two-time winner this year and the Champions Tour's top money-winner, had a 68 and was alone in third. Tom Kite, John Morse, Mark James, Joey Sindelar, Larry Mize, Dana Quigley and Fred Gibson were the only other players under par, each with a 69.

LPGA Tour

France's Karine Icher and South Korea's Hee Young Park shot 8-under 64s to share the first-round lead in the final LPGA Corning Classic in Corning, N.Y.

Park had eight one-putt birdies, only one from more than 10 feet, and completed her round at Corning Country Club with a 6-footer at No. 18. Icher tied her with an 8-foot putt at No. 18.

-- The Associated Press

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