Cejka Thirlls Fans Leads Tiger and Company


Germanys Alex Cejka was brilliant Friday competing in his native country against an elite field containing the worlds No. 1 ranked player.
The bleached-blond 31-year-old made eight birdies without a bogey in taking the first-round lead in the Deutsche Bank-SAP Open TPC of Europe. Cejka is one shot clear of New Zealander Greg Turner, and two removed from 1989 champion Colin Montgomerie.
Tiger Woods, trying to become the first man ever to repeat at this event, opened in 3-under 69. The defending champion had four birdies and a bogey on the 7,255-yard, par-72 St. Leon-Rot Golf Club in Heidelberg.
It wasnt my best, but any round in the 60s today is a job well done, said Woods, who also won here in 1999.
Woods started with a 10-foot birdie at the 10th ' his first hole of the day ' and two-putted the par-5 12th to go 2-under. He sank a 25-footer at No. 16 to go to minus 3, but caught a bad break on the next hole.
Tigers second shot at the 551-yard, par-5 17th landed under the lip of a bunker, from where he was only able to advance his ball some 20 yards. He made bogey to turn in 2-under 34.
Woods struggled on the slow St. Leon-Rot greens, making one birdie and eight pars on the front side ' his back.
I felt I really hit the ball well today, Woods said. I felt comfortable. The new greens on the new holes are slower than the pace we are used to on the U.S. tour. They are all about the same speed there.
Last year, Woods also shot a first-round 69, but trailed by a greater margin, as Michael Campbell fired a 62.
Cejka, who fled the Czech Republic at the age of nine to settle in Munich, is a three-time European Tour winner, though all came in 1995. He made noise last year when he went into the final round of the British Open with a share of the lead, only to shoot 73 and finish tied for 13th.
It was a new experience, Cejka said of the British Open. I finished 13th, but it could have been third or second or even first. Some people only ever have one chance and maybe this year it could be me again. You never know in this game.
For now, however, Cejka will have to focus on the task at hand ' beating another top-notch field.
Montgomerie is trying to continue a nine-year winning streak on tour. He was in position to do so at last weeks Benson & Hedges International, but played poorly Saturday and made a pair of crucial mistakes Sunday.
The 38-year-old Scot is on twice-daily painkillers to alleviate the pain in his back. He felt a twinge in the area Thursday and withdrew from the pro-am, but showed no signs of discomfort in shooting 66 Friday.
I am delighted with what happened today, said Montgomerie. I am running into a bit of form, so lets see how long we can hold it.
Speaking of injured golfers, Darren Clarke shot 5-under 67 in the first round, despite pulling a muscle in his thigh Monday on a fishing trip.
Full-field scores from the Deutsche Bank-SAP Open