Stuard seeks first title in Puerto Rico, takes the early lead

AFP, RIO GRANDE, Puerto Rico

Sat, Mar 08, 2014 - Page 19

Brian Stuard, a two-time USPGA runner-up still seeking his first title, fired a six-under-par 66 on Thursday to seize a one-stroke lead after 18 holes at the Puerto Rico Open.

Stuard, an American who was second at the 2010 and last year’s Mayakoba Classic in Mexico, began off the 10th tee and fired seven birdies against a lone bogey on day one of the US$3.5 million event.

“The wind is blowing pretty good out there, so I hit some good shots. I kept it in play nice off the tee, didn’t get in much trouble and only made the one bogey,” Stuard said.

Stuard began a run of three birdies in a row at the par-three 11th and added birdies at the par-five 15th and 18th holes. He birdied the par-five second and par-four third, but took a bogey at the sixth before parring to the clubhouse.

New Zealand’s Danny Lee and Jason Gore of the US shared second on 67 with South Korea’s Y.E. Yang, the 2009 PGA Championship winner, and the US’ Ricky Barnes, Tim Petrovic, William McGirt, Chesson Hadley, Eric Axley and Ben Martin another stroke off the pace.

Most of the world’s top players are competing at this week’s World Golf Championships Cadillac Championship at Doral in Miami.

Japan’s Ryo Ishikawa, the 2012 Puerto Rico runner-up, opened with a 70 in Rio Grande.

Ishikawa began with a birdie at the 10th and took a bogey at the par-three 11th, but then answered with birdies at 14 and 15. Ishikawa also had bogeys at the first and fifth, but responded with a birdie each time on the next hole.