Jones takes early lead in Texas

Matt Jones carded a course record six-under-par 66 to take a one-shot lead at the Valero Texas Open in San Antonio.

Matt Jones carded a course record six-under-par 66 to take a one-shot lead at the Valero Texas Open in San Antonio.
The 30-year-old Australian bounced back from an opening double bogey to lead after Thursday’s first round, with American Paul Stankowski a shot further back following a 67 and JB Holmes, Matt Weibring, Steve Lowery and Charley Hoffman tied for third on four under.
Two-time defending champion Zach Johnson carded an eight over 80 and now faces a tough task to reach the halfway cut, let alone win the tournament for a third successive year.
Jones had to go through qualifying school to earn his PGA Tour card, but has justified his place this year with four top-10 finishes already – twice as many as he managed in the whole of 2009.
He made had a strong opening round at TPC San Antonio – the Greg Norman-designed layout is hosting the event for the first time – but it began badly with a double bogey six on the par-four first.
Jones responded, though, with successive birdies at holes six and seven before a closing nine of 30 featuring birdies at holes 12, 13, 16 and 17 as well as an eagle three on the par-five 14th.
Stankowski, beginning on the back nine, also started badly, bogeying his second hole, the 11th.
But the 40-year-old American, who has two PGA Tour victories to his name, carded birdies at the 13th, 15th and 17th and closed with birdies and holes two, six and seven.
American Ryder Cup player Holmes was pleased with his display after three birdies, an eagle and a bogey.
“I hit the ball great all day,” said Holmes.
“I didn’t make anything. I missed two little short putts and I hit the ball so good. I should have been five, six-under going into the last two holes and just didn’t make anything.
“So it was nice to feel like I salvaged that round a little bit and finished like that. I was hoping maybe get birdie, birdie. Birdie, eagle that was really, really great.
“I’m hitting the ball really well right now.”
While Holmes feels as though he is returning to top form, one player has already quit the tournament.
Will MacKenzie withdrew, citing a back injury, following an opening-round 85 that included six bogeys, three double bogeys and one birdie.