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August 29, 2009

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Garcia, two others ahead at Barclays

SERGIO Garcia of Spain fired a six-under 65 to tie Americans Paul Goydos and Steve Marino for the first-round lead at the Barclays Classic in Jersey City, New Jersey, on Thursday with Tiger Woods five shots back.

Garcia, firing approach shots at the pins on the Liberty National's receptive greens, reached seven-under before bogeying his last hole of the day, the 474-yard par-four ninth.

"I drove the ball nicely, hit a lot of good iron shots and made a couple of birdie putts here and there," the Spaniard said at the opening leg of the US Tour's four-event FedExCup series. "So overall, a good, solid day."

Goydos, who also started at 10, made five birdies in six holes from the 16th, while Marino mirrored Garcia by reaching seven-under before a bogey at the last after a wayward drive.

Woods and Phil Mickelson, the world's top two players, both posted rounds of one-under 70.

One stroke behind the co-leaders were Sweden's Fredrik Jacobson and Americans Webb Simpson, Heath Slocum and Charley Hoffman.

Another shot away on four-under 67 were Ireland's Padraig Harrington, Briton Ian Poulter and American David Toms.

Mickelson, a member of the exclusive course laid out on the waterfront across from the Statue of Liberty, had five birdies and four bogeys in a roller-coaster round.

Woods had a less dramatic tour, making his only bogey at the seventh after driving into a fairway bunker at the 484-yard par-four on the scenic course.

Failing to take full advantage of the three par-fives bothered Woods. "You've got to make hay on the par fives here," he said. "You don't get too many opportunities around this place and I only made one birdie on the par fives."

Difficult greens

"It's a long, hard golf course with difficult greens," Goydos told reporters, saying he took advantage of relatively calm morning conditions.

Goydos said he and playing partner Ernie Els, who shot 72, marveled at the stunning views of the Statue of Liberty and the skyscrapers of nearby Manhattan that frame the course. "This is going to be a spectacular tournament on television," he said.

At Gleneagles, Scotland, former British Open champion Paul Lawrie overcame heavy rain to shoot a bogey-free 67 for a one-stroke lead at the Johnnie Walker Championship on Thursday.

Lawrie led by a shot from fellow Scot Steven O'Hara, defending champion Gregory Havret of France, Australian Wade Orsmby and Sweden's Ake Nilsson.

European Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie had an opening 76 for the second straight week, although here he was just four-over. Last week at the Dutch Open he was six-over and 12 shots off the lead as he missed the cut despite a second-round 67.


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