Tiger Woods has come to expect the round he had - not many fairways, but not far from the lead.
After missing the first six weeks of the season with a cracked rib, Lonard finally saw some good results from his hard work with two great shots into the par-5s at Cottonwood Valley that led to an eagle and a birdie, the centerpiece of an otherwise solid round.
He was tied with J.L. Lewis, who made all but one of his birdie putts inside 10 feet.
'I probably practiced as hard as I ever have and gotten worse each week,' Lonard said. 'So it was nice to actually come back and play well.'
Woods, who finished one stroke out of the playoff last week despite spraying the ball all over Quail Hollow, hit only six fairways on the TPC at Las Colinas, but still managed to make seven birdies in a 65 that left him tied with Dudley Hart.
'Basically, I had one really bad golf shot today, and that was on 10,' Woods said, referring to a driver that caddie Steve Williams suggested he hit. Woods went well right into the trees, had no chance to get to the green and hit a flop shot some 25 feet beyond the flag for a bogey.
Still, it wasn't a bad start considering he played on the tougher Las Colinas course.
Most players were surprised they even finished considering the weather - gathering storm clouds, strong gusts and lightning on the horizon, but it was never close enough to the course that play was stopped.
The wind made it slightly more difficult for everybody; it was the first time in four years that someone didn't post a 63 or better in the first round on the par-70 courses. Then again, the softer greens allowed 69 players to break par.
Nick Price finished with back-to-back 2s on his card - a birdie on the par-3 17th at Cottonwood Valley, followed by a shot he holed from the 18th fairway for eagle. That put him in a large group at 66 that included Sergio Garcia, Jerry Kelly, Chris Smith and U.S. Open runner-up Stephen Leaney.
Defending champion Vijay Singh took double bogey on the 14th hole and had to rally for a 68, while Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els each had a 69.
'I certainly had my chances to go low today, but just didn't do it,' Mickelson said. 'It wasn't a horrendous round, and I'm in a position where if I can go low tomorrow, I will be right back in it for the weekend.'
Lonard, a 36-year-old Australian, is off to a slow start this year because of a freak injury. He was so excited about the 2004 season that he came to Orlando, Fla., over Christmas to work out. While getting his hip stretched, his trainer put his hand at the bottom of Lonard's rib and it snapped.
Two days later, he was on the range, took one swing and 'I thought someone had shot me.'
'Next year, I'll stay in Australia and get drunk with my mates, like I always do,' Lonard said. 'I've learned something from that.'
He managed to get to the second round of the Match Play Championship and finished fifth at the BellSouth, but Lonard has made the cut in only two other tournaments. It hasn't been from a lack of effort.
'I think if you put in a lot of time practicing and doing the right stuff, sooner or later it'll come around,' he said. 'It's been a while since I've actually shot a low score, but I didn't feel that uncomfortable about the whole thing.'
Dallas-based swing coach Hank Haney followed Woods around Las Colinas. There has been speculation that Haney, who works with Mark O'Meara, is getting more involved with Woods' swing since his split from Butch Harmon, although Woods said Haney is not his coach and that he seeks input from a variety of coaches and players.
'Some of the stuff I throw out, some of the stuff I'll try, and it either works or I'll throw it out later,' Woods said.
Nothing is wrong with his putting. Woods took only 24 putts, and came within an inch of sharing the lead when his eagle chip on 16 hole caught the slope and was one turn from falling.
'It's was great to get off to a good, solid start,' Woods said. 'Now, we get to go to the easier of the two golf courses. But you've still got to execute over there.'
Las Colinas (70.68) played about 1 1/2 strokes harder than Cottonwood Valley (69.28).
Divots:@ David Frost failed to play in the pro-am and was replaced by John Maginnes. The PGA Tour has a policy that players must take part in the pro-am to be eligible for the tournament. The Byron Nelson has the largest pro-am field because it uses two courses with morning and afternoon tee times. Frost forgot to check both courses and didn't realize he was in. He was so angry that he threatened to show up for his 8:20 a.m. tee time. Instead, he spent the morning in the PGA Tour rules office arguing about the policy. ... Among those who withdrew were Corey Pavin (shoulder) and Steve Flesch (back). ... Joe Ogilvie, the runner-up at New Orleans, withdrew after a 78.
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