Chad Campbell steals show in first round

Thu Apr 9, 2009 7:45pm EDT
 
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By Mark Lamport-Stokes

AUGUSTA, Georgia (Reuters) - American Chad Campbell raised hopes of the lowest score at a major championship before a faltering finish earned a one-shot lead on seven-under-par 65 in the U.S. Masters first round on Thursday.

Nine under with two holes to play on a vulnerable Augusta National layout, Campbell bogeyed 17 and 18.

That put him a stroke in front of fellow Americans Jim Furyk and Hunter Mahan, who bogeyed the last on a glorious spring day that contained hardly a breath of wind.

While four-times winner Tiger Woods began and ended poorly to shoot a 70 in the favorable conditions, Campbell led a glut of low scores on a course trimmed by 10 yards since last year.

With several tees pushed forward on a layout measuring 7,435 yards, the Texan set a Masters record by starting with five consecutive birdies.

Out in five-under 31, Campbell reeled off four birdies in a row from the 12th before finding a bunker with his approach on 17 and three-putting the 18th green.

A par-par finish would have earned the 34-year-old the 24th 63 recorded in a major.

"I got off on a roll and it's always nice to make a couple of birdies to start, much less five," a beaming Campbell told reporters.   Continued...

 
<p>Chad Campbell of the U.S. hits his tee shot on the 17th hole during first round play at the 2009 Masters golf tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia, April 9, 2009. REUTERS/Shaun Best</p>