Byrd flying solo in Las Vegas

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Jonathan Byrd shot a 63 on Friday to take a one-shot lead at the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospital for Children Open.

American Jonathan Byrd shot a 63 at a soggy TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas on Friday to take a one-shot lead into the weekend at the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospital for Children Open.

The American carded 8 birdies en route to the top of the leaderboard at 13-under, and credits the low scores in the tournament to the amount of rain the course has seen over the last two weeks.

“There were a lot of birdies,” said Byrd. “You know, this golf course when it’s not firm, it takes a lot of teeth out of it.

“It was a fun day. It was easy.”

Byrd’s near-perfect run was marred by a single bogey on the 11th, which saw him pull his drive, over-shoot the green with his approach, and then miss his par putt.

“I let it get to me just for a minute,” he said. “I was starting to think, ‘Man, I gave one back,’ but then I came back with a birdie on the next hole and kind of got rid of that. That helped a lot.”

Japan’s Ryuji Imada sits just one shot off the pace after an electrifying, career-low 62, which included an eagle, eight birdies, and a bogey.

“It helps me to have softer greens, because I’m not a longer hitter,” Imada said. “And you know, it usually helps me quite a bit.

Imada’s first and only TOUR victory was two years ago at the 2008 AT&T Classic, and the 34-year-old is keen to capitalise on a clear opportunity to add to that tally.

“I’ve been working hard to get my second PGA TOUR victory, and you never know when that next chance comes around,” Imada said. “And this looks like it, so I’m going to give it my best shot.

“I’ve been striking the ball well the last two weeks, and hopefully I can keep that up.”

Imada’s 62 was matched by defending champion Martin Laird, who, like many of the players, reveled in the conditions.

“It’s like playing inside out there,” said the Scot. “Apart from the rain we got for those couple of holes, it’s perfect. There’s no winds, and, as I said, soft greens.

“You know, it’s definitely the type of tournament you’ve just got to keep firing and even when you’re up 5-, 6-under par, you know that’s not good enough. You’ve got to keep going at pins, and that’s what I did.”

Martin was joined by a logjam of players on 11-under, including Americans George McNeill, Nicholas Thompson, TOUR rookie Alex Prugh – who tied for second last week at at CordeValle – and Australian John Senden.

Also in contention are eight players on 10-under, including recent Ryder Cup inductee and Las Vegas local Rickie Fowler, who is still looking for that elusive win in his first year on the TOUR.

“Obviously making the cut is kind of the first step to winning a tournament,” said Fowler. “So we’re in good position going into the weekend. It would have been nice to play the par-5s a little bit better today, but all in all a good run.

“We’re kind of right where we want to be.”

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