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Trio share first-round lead in Las Vegas

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PGA TourLAS VEGAS – Champions Tour winner Tom Pernice Jr. shot a bogey-free 9-under 62 on Thursday for a share of the first-round lead with Troy Matteson and Spencer Levin in the PGA Tour’s Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.

The 50-year-old Pernice, a two-time winner on the PGA Tour who won the SAS Championship on Sept. 27 in his Champions Tour debut, birdied his final two holes – Nos. 8 and 9 – at TPC Summerlin to match the best round of his career.

“I got off to a really good start, which was nice, and continued to have a really good round,” Pernice said. “Good, quality iron shots first really set it up. The iron shots really were the key. And the conditions are obviously perfect here.”

Levin had an eagle and seven birdies in his bogey-free round, and Matteson, the 2006 winner, had 10 birdies and a bogey – on No. 17.

“When you’ve had nine birdies to that point, it’s a little easier when you make a mistake,” Matteson said. “When you have two birdies and you make a mistake, especially with the scores being as low as they are, that’s frustrating.”

Bob Heintz and Martin Laird were a stroke back.

“On the back nine, every time I hit a really good iron shot I was kicking it in,” Heintz said. “It doesn’t always happen that way. It was pleasant.”

Three-time Las Vegas winner Jim Furyk, coming off the United States’ victory in the Presidents Cup last weekend in San Francisco, matched Las Vegas native Scott Piercy at 64. Furyk bogeyed his first two holes in the Fall Series event.

“It was a slow start, but I don’t know if it was a rough start,” Furyk said. “You just have to stay patient. A lot of it is your mental frame. I was 1-under par after eight holes today. I really got it going, making a nice birdie on 18. I then hit it close on one, two, three and four and was able to birdie those holes.”

Piercy was playing while wife Sara was expected to go into labor “any minute.”

“I got two great breaks today,” he said. “I hit in the rocks on three and hit in the rocks on six and I made pars, and almost made birdies, on both of them.”

Tim Petrovic, Kirk Triplett, Briny Baird, Robert Garrigus and Jeff Klauk shot 65s.

Rickie Fowler, the 2008 college player of the year as a freshman at Oklahoma State, opened with a 67 in his first PGA Tour start as a professional. As an amateur this year, he tied for 58th in the FBR Open and missed the cuts at the U.S. Open and Travelers. He also lost a playoff in the Nationwide Tour’s Columbus, Ohio, event.

Hunter Mahan had a 70, and U.S. Presidents Cup teammate Anthony Kim shot a 72.