Jones shares Puerto Rico lead

2012-03-09 14:21

Rio Grande - Australian Matt Jones, seeking the first PGA Tour title of his career, fired a six-under par 66 on Thursday to share the lead after the first round of the Puerto Rico Open.

Jones, whose best PGA Tour finishes were shares of fourth at the 2008 Honda Classic and Buick Open, shared the top spot with American George McNeill, each one stroke ahead of American Ben Curtis, the 2003 British Open champion.

Jones eagled the par-5 second hole and parred his way to the ninth, where he began a run of three birdies in a row.

His lone bogey of the day came at the 12th, but the Aussie rebounded with birdies at the 15th and 18th, the two par-5s on the back nine, to finish on six-under.

"I had unbelievable ball striking," Jones said. "I think I was pin-high every hole except 17, when I wanted to be a bit short of it. Then I made good putts, had a good eagle to get started and had a great day."

Even though he was hitting it so well, Jones said the windy conditions on the par-72 Trump International course made the day challenging.

"It was very windy, just had to judge it right," he said. "My caddie and I talked it out and we hit the shots and executed them."

McNeill, who began a bogey-free round on the back nine, started a run of three birdies in four holes on the 12th and matched the run on the front side with birdies at the par-5 second and fifth around another at the fourth.

Americans Todd Hamilton, Daniel Summerhays, Jeff Overton and Kevin Kisner shared fourth on 69.

Former Masters champion Angel Cabrera opened with a 69 to share eighth after the first round of the $3.5 million event.

Japan's Ryo Ishikawa, who has accepted a special invitation to play at the Masters, shared 21st after an opening 70.

While six major winners were among those chasing the $630 000 top prize, most of the world's top players were playing this week at the World Golf Championships event at Doral in Miami.

Scores on Thursday after the opening round of the $3.5 million Puerto Rico Open (par 72, USA unless noted):

66 - Matt Jones (AUS), George McNeill

67 - Ben Curtis

68 - Jeff Overton, Kevin Kisner, Todd Hamilton, Daniel Summerhays

69 - Lee Janzen, Gavin Coles (AUS), Angel Cabrera (ARG), Shaun Micheel, Mathew Goggin (AUS), Kevin Stadler, Scott Brown, Roland Thatcher, Brendon de Jonge (ZIM), Roberto Castro, Graham DeLaet (CAN), Brian Davis (ENG), Will Claxton

70 - James Driscoll, David Mathis, Hunter Haas, Boo Weekley, Mark Anderson, Henrik Stenson (SWE), Nicholas Thompson, J.J. Killeen, Brendon Todd, Ryo Ishikawa (JPN), Vaughn Taylor, Jamie Lovemark, Danny Lee (NZL)