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McDowell eagle caps perfect day
By TIMES WIRES
Published April 28, 2006
NEW ORLEANS - Graeme McDowell already was thrilled with how he played Thursday in the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. One last shot made him feel even better.
McDowell finished a flawless round in easy conditions at English Turn by one-hopping a wedge from 116 yards into the cup for eagle on the ninth hole, giving him 8-under 64 for a one-shot lead over Stuart Appleby.
"That's a real bonus," McDowell said. "It doesn't matter how good you hit. To get the ball in the cup takes a bit of luck."
It took just that to keep Appleby from leading a PGA Tour event for the fifth consecutive round. Coming off a wire-to-wire victory last week in the Houston Open, he again made it look easy by never coming seriously close to bogey and hitting a wedge into 4 feet for birdie on the 18th hole for 65.
And it took McDowell's eagle to get a small measure of separation from a jam-packed leaderboard, brought on by soft, slow conditions on a course that played so easy that McDowell found himself reaching for a wedge on nearly every hole.
Among the tour's par-72 courses, the 7,116-yard English Turn is the third shortest. Heavy rain Wednesday made the greens soft, and wind disappeared after a few hours of a sunny morning.
David Toms, a Louisiana native and a star in this area for his relief work involving Hurricane Katrina victims, opened with 69.
Tripp Isenhour, Bryce Molder and Chris Stroud shot 6-under to share the first-round lead at the $625,000 BMW Charity Pro-Am at the Cliffs, Travelers Rest, S.C.
The event is the only tournament on the tour to be contested on three courses, utilizing the Cliffs Valley, the Cliffs at Keowee Vineyards and the Cliffs at Walnut Cove. Each course produced one of the leaders.
Isenhour took advantage of the easiest course with a 66 at Cliffs Valley. Stroud posted 65 at Keowee Vineyards, and Molder had 65 at Walnut Cove, the toughest course on the tour a year ago.
England's Graeme Storm and Portugal's Jose-Felipe Lima shot 7-under 65s to share the first-round lead at the Spanish Open in San Roque. Paul Ballesteros, nephew of Seve Ballesteros, took an early lead but dropped three shots on the last two holes. He finished with 66.