Cabrera leads as big guns lurk

US Tour

Angel Cabrera carded a six-under-par 65 on Thursday to eke out a narrow one-shot lead at the Wells Fargo Championship.

The two-time major winner produced seven birdies, including four successive ones around the turn, with his only bogey coming at the par-four fourth hole at Quail Hollow.

“It was a really good first round. I played really good on the greens,” he told pgatour.com. “The changes are really good and on the 16th hole it is a really good change.

“I felt really good putting.”

The Argentinian finds himself one stroke ahead of five-time major winner Phil Mickelson and Martin Flores with Stewart Cink, Jonathan Byrd and Webb Simpson another shot adrift. The European charge is led by Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose and Martin Kaymer who are three under.

Mickelson, who is still looking for his first top-10 finish of the season, endured a mixed afternoon as he carded four birdies on the front nine and picked up three more on the back, but his hard work was undone by bogeys at the 13th and 17th.

“It was a really good round for me, a great way to start the tournament,” he said. “I haven’t gotten off to great starts, and I was trying to get a good focus to get a good round in on Thursday because I always feel like I’m playing from behind, so to get off to a quick start is really a good sign, and what I needed.

Simpson also had chances for a good opening score with seven birdies, but a double bogey and the par-four ninth and a bogey 18th cost him dearly.

Two-time major winner McIlroy, US Open champion Rose and former world number one Kaymar are part of a nine-man group that is tied for seventh.

McIlroy, a winner in Charlotte in 2010, made a sloppy start with bogeys at the third and fourth, but he recovered with birdies at the next two holes. Four birdies and a dropped shot at the 16th left him at three under.

“I felt like I played solid,” he said. “I gave myself plenty of looks for birdies and I felt like I putted a little better today than I have done in the past few weeks.

“I was looking to go a couple more under par after the turn but I bogeyed three and four but bounced back nicely on five and six and I was trying to squeeze a couple more but I think anything sub 70 today is a good score because the wind is a little gusty out there.”

Kaymar was a little more spectacular as his round included eagles at the seventh and eighth while Rose’s round included a 75-foot eagle putt at the par-five fifth.

“I don’t think I’ve ever done that before,” Kaymar said.

He added: “I missed a lot of short putts today. I stayed in the tournament but overall it would have been nice to get a couple more shots here and there.”

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