Chalmers sets pace at Congressional, Woods toils

Thu Jun 26, 2014 8:22pm EDT
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(Reuters) - While Tiger Woods mainly struggled in his first competitive round in three months, Australian Greg Chalmers birdied his last three holes to seize control of the Quicken Loans National in Bethesda, Maryland on Thursday.

Chalmers, at the age of 40 still seeking his first victory on the PGA Tour, fired a five-under-par 66 on a difficult Congressional Country Club layout bristling with thick rough to take a one-shot lead in the opening round.

The Australian left-hander picked up three shots in his first nine holes after teeing off at the par-three 10th, then bogeyed the second before ending his round in style with birdies at the seventh, eighth and ninth.

That left Chalmers a stroke in front of long-hitting American Ricky Barnes and Swede Fredrik Jacobson, who carded matching 67s.

"I really drove the ball well, probably the best I have driven it all year," Chalmers told PGA Tour Radio. "That kind of set up the rest of the round, and finishing with three straight birdies is always nice."

Chalmers, who has twice finished second on the PGA Tour during his career, felt he was very fortunate to escape with pars on the only two occasions when he missed the fairway by more than a couple of feet off the tee, at the third and fourth.

"It's nasty," he said of the lush rough at Congressional. "I drove it in the rough twice, on my 12 and 13th holes, and I had real trouble. I had to lay it up and luckily I got them up and down (for par).

"You just have to be coming out of the fairway here (with second shots), and I did do that the majority of the time today."

TITLE DEFENSE   Continued...

Greg Chalmers of Australia tees off on the second hole during the third round of the Northern Trust Open golf tournament at Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles February 16, 2013. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok