Defending Champion Back on Top


PGA Tour (75x100)RENO, Nev. --Defending champion Vaughn Taylor birdied six of his last eight holes for an 8-under par 64 and took a one-stroke lead over Sweden's Fredrik Jacobson and Reno's Todd Fischer Thursday in the windy first round of the Reno-Tahoe Open.
Vaughan Taylor
Vaughan Taylor is trying to become the first repeat winner in event history.
Guy Boros was another stroke back at 6-under 66, followed by Aaron Baddeley, Jesper Parnevik and Duffy Waldorf at 67 on the 7,472-yard course at Montreux Golf and Country Club.
Former British Open champion Todd Hamilton and Craig Barlow shot 68s. Among those at 69 were former British Open champ Ben Curtis, Joe Ogilvie, Jonathan Kaye and Paul Azinger, who splits his time in the broadcast booth. David Duval, another former British Open champ, shot a 10-over 82.
The $3 million tournament played on the edge of the Sierra Nevada runs head to head with the World Golf Championship NEC Invitational that began Thursday in Ohio.
Taylor claimed his only PGA Tour victory as a rookie at Reno last year when he rolled in an 11-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole to defeat Scott McCarron, Hunter Mahan and Steve Allan.
On Thursday, he dropped a 30-foot birdie putt on the 477-yard 15th and hit to within 3 feet for birdies on the last two holes to come within a shot of tying the course record of 63.
``It was good to be back out there,'' Taylor said after carding 10 birdies and two bogeys on the mountain course that forces players to adjust their shots because the ball travels farther at the 5,500-foot elevation.
``I had some good feelings, some good memories and I think it rubbed off a little. My caddie does all my yardages and percentages. So that was definitely a big help. I just play,'' he said.
Swirling winds that gusted to 30 mph will help determine whether anyone can match the tournament record of 17-under 271, said Taylor, who won last year at 10 under when winds gusted to 45 mph in the final round.
``I got a little lucky this morning and played five or six holes before it started blowing,'' he said.
Jacobson birdied five of six holes during one stretch, hitting to within 7 feet of the pin on three consecutive holes and draining each putt. Finishing on the front nine, he was 8 under with two holes to play in his debut at Reno but gave a shot back on the 464-yard eighth when his approach landed in a greenside bunker.
``You can't ask for much more the first time you are playing a course in competition,'' Jacobson said. ``It felt a lot like coming to Switzerland in Europe, which is one the places I've always enjoyed going -- the fresh air in the morning, the nice scenery.''
The 36-year-old Fischer reeled off four consecutive birdies after he hit a ``dumb shot'' into the water trying to reach the 616-yard ninth in two and settled for a bogey when his par putt lipped out.
``I walked away there a little angry,'' he said, before making birdie putts on five of the next six holes. He bogeyed the par-3 16th when the wind fooled him and he hit his tee shot too long into the trees. He finished with an 8-foot birdie on No. 18.
Like Jacobson, Fischer is seeking his first PGA victory since joining the tour full time in 2003. A winner on the Nationwide Tour in 2002, he's 133rd on the PGA money list with $377,667. His best finish this season was a tie for ninth at the Chrysler Classic of Tucson.
``I've had a pretty rough year,'' Fischer said. ``Golf is one of those games you can hit it good and you score bad, or you hit it bad and you score good sometimes. This year I just haven't found the key or the ingredients to get the two together.''
Related links:
  • Scoring - Reno-Tahoe Open
  • Full Coverage - Reno-Tahoe Open
    Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.