March 27, 2015 / 2:08 AM / 3 years ago

Late starter Hoffman moves one ahead at Texas Open

(Reuters) - American Charley Hoffman, bidding for a fourth PGA Tour victory, took advantage of a favorable afternoon start to seize a one-stroke lead in the opening round of the Texas Open in sunny San Antonio on Thursday.

Mar 26, 2015; San Antonio, TX, USA; Charley Hoffman hits his tee shot on the par 3 #16 during the first round of the Valero Texas Open golf tournament at TPC San Antonio - AT&T Oaks Course. Hoffman was the leader at -5 coming in to the last hole. Mandatory Credit: Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports

With conditions a little easier in the afternoon after the morning field had struggled in strong gusting winds, Hoffman fired a flawless five-under-par 67 on the challenging layout at the TPC San Antonio.

Australian Aaron Baddeley, helped by an extraordinary birdie at the par-four 17th, opened with a 68 and American Max Homa with a 69 as only 12 players ended a testing day under par, all of them benefiting from afternoon tee times.

Five-times major winner Phil Mickelson and fellow American Ryan Palmer returned 70s but U.S. Open champion Martin Kaymer of Germany ballooned to an 82 after having to contend with morning winds that gusted up to 40 mph (64 kph).

Baddeley, a three-times winner on the PGA Tour, produced the shot of the day after losing his ball in trees with a hooked drive at the par-four 17th.

Playing his third after being penalized one stroke, he teed off for a second time and promptly holed out for a birdie from 336 yards.

“I hit it straight and started walking off the tee and all of a sudden everyone in the crowd started going crazy,” Baddeley told Golf Channel after a round that included five birdies and a lone bogey.

“And I‘m like, ‘I think I just made birdie!’ That was a crazy finish to the round.”

World number six Jordan Spieth, a Texas native, also took advantage of an afternoon start as he carded a 71.

“When the wind died down just a little on the back nine, it made those down-wind holes easy and the into-the-breeze holes manageable,” the 21-year-old said after recording an eagle at the par-five 14th, a birdie and two bogeys.

“So I am very pleased with the start and really lucky with the draw that we had.”

Americans Matt Kuchar and Cameron Percy were the best players among the morning wave, grinding out level-par 72s when the average score was 78.61. As conditions became calmer in the afternoon, the average score improved to 74.86.

“Even par is still an amazing day,” said Kuchar. “This was about as challenging of conditions as I can remember facing.”

Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Frank Pingue/Greg Stutchbury

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