Las Vegas logjam

Five players were tied for the lead after the first round of the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals Open.

Five players were log jammed on top of the leaderboard after the first round of the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in Las Vegas on Thursday.
The American quartet of Robert Garrigus, Will MacKenzie, Michael Letzig and Cameron Tringale were tied for the lead with Australia’s John Senden after each had opened with a seven-under-par 64.

George McNeill, Nicholas Thompson, Ryan Palmer, Vaughn Taylor and Martin Flores opened with 65s, while John Daly and Davis Love III were in the group on 66.

MacKenzie, a two-time winner on the PGA TOUR, birdied his first three holes from the first, bogeyed the eight, nullified that with another birdie on the ninth and then added four more at the 12th, 13th, 14th and 16th holes

“I got off to such a great start,” MacKenzie told reporters afterwards. “I hit a beautiful 5-iron into 6 or 8 feet and made it (on the par-4 third hole). Of course, I started thinking, ‘It’s about time for me to shoot a real low one.'”

Letzig, who teed off on the 10th, had a spectacular start and an even faster finish, closing his round with a birdie on the par-3 eighth and an eagle on the par-5 ninth, after playing his first nine holes in a 6-under 30.

“Got off to an unbelievable start, 6 under through seven,” Letzig said. “Just fell asleep in the middle of the round, played really sloppy. Missed a couple greens with wedges in my hand and just kind of got mad at myself. (But I) had a great finish. That birdie-eagle saved the round.”

Senden put himself in the picture by making birdies on three of his last four holes.

“There are half a dozen holes you really feel you have a good chance of birdieing them,” Senden said. “And you feel a little bit disappointed when you walk off with a par after hitting the ball well.

“On this golf course, if you’re driving the ball well, you can shoot some real low numbers.”

And Senden certainly did that, taking it on from there to hit 18 of 18 greens in regulation.

Hunter Mahan, who lost out to Graeme McDowell in the decisive Ryder Cup singles match at Celtic Manor earlier this month, was four under while US team-mate Rickie Fowler, a Las Vegas resident, was three under.

England’s Brian Davis was the highest-placed European player at four under, while Scotland’s Martin Laird shot a two-under 69. It was a bad day for Englishman Greg Owen who was on six-over 77, a round which included nine shots on the par-four third at the TPC Summerlin course.