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A tournament sellout. Six-and-a-half hours of televised coverage. The feel of a major championship. All for Tiger Woods. But despite the red-carpet treatment, you'll pardon Mr. Woods if he doesn't feel welcome at the Bell Canadian Open.
 
Woods, whose only missed cut in 93 professional starts came at the 1997 Canadian Open, shot a rather mundane round of even par 72 to place him seven shots off the first-round lead at the Glen Abbey GC in Oakville, Ontario.
 
Leading the way after Day 1 of Canada's National Open is Kevin Sutherland. Sutherland shot an early 7-under-par 65 to grab a one-shot lead over Cameron Beckman. J.L. Lewis, Brian Watts, Sergio Garcia and Jesper Parnevik are two back after all opened in 5-under-par 67.
 
This isn't new territory for the elder of the Sutherland brothers. The 36-year-old, whose younger sibling, David, also plays on the Tour, knows what it's like to lead after 18 holes of an event. He just doesn't know what it feels like to lead after 72 holes.
 
For the third time in his five-year PGA Tour career, Sutherland holds the top spot through round one. He did so for the first time at the 1998 Buick Classic. He finished tied for seventh. He did so for the second time at the 1999 Greater Hartford Open. He finished tied for 17th.
 
If Sutherland can continue the prolific putting he showed on Thursday, he may just capture his first career PGA Tour victory. Sutherland, who began his first round on the par-37 back nine, reeled off four birdies and an eagle at the par-5 18th for 6-under-par 31.
 
'I putted phenomenally well today,' said Sutherland, who took 27 putts in the first round. 'When you're putting well, it keeps the round going, keeps the momentum going.'
 
Sutherland kept that momentum through to the front nine, though it only bore one birdie. Still, Sutherland didn't drop a shot over his final nine holes to produce his lowest score in his last 74 rounds played.
 
Putting has also been a friendly companion to Garcia as of late. The 20-year-old Spaniard, who defeated Woods in a head-to-head match play event two weeks ago and tied for fourth at last week's Air Canada Championship, took just 23 putts en route to his round of 67. At one point, Garcia climbed his way to 7-under for the tournament, but bogeyed the 6th and 8th (his 15th and 17th holes of the day) to finish at 5-under-par.
 
'The putter is a lot better than what it was,' said Garcia, who, coming off a two-win 1999, is in search of his first worldwide victory of this season. 'I'm hitting the irons better than last year, and the driver too, but the putter was keeping me from contending.
 
'I'm playing better than last year. I just wasn't putting as well. Now, I'm starting to putt better.'
 
The putter wasn't kind to Tiger on Thursday. Though he needed only 27 swipes to make it around the Jack Nicklaus-designed track, Woods suffered a number of lip-outs.
 
Tiger was 3-under through his first eight holes, but a bogey at the par-4 9th sent his round into a tailspin. Woods double bogeyed the par-4 11th, when his approach shot from 110 yards found the water surrounding the green.
 
Tiger hit only two of nine greens in regulation on the back nine for a 2-over-par 39.
 
Yet despite his back nine troubles, Woods managed to birdie the par-5 18th to secure his 32nd round on the PGA Tour at par or better.
 
'That's just the way it is sometimes,' said Woods, whose last round over par came in the first round of the GTE Byron Nelson Classic, May 11.
 
So, it's back to the drawing board for Woods, right? Wrong. It's back to bed. For the first time this year, Tiger will have a Friday morning tee time, going off at 7:57am ET.
 
'I'm gonna go home and get some rest,' Tiger said. '(I'm) still under the weather a bit.
 
'As bad as I felt over the ball on the back nine today, to be even par, I feel pretty good,'
 
Sutherland's feeling pretty good himself. He hasn't played since missing the cut at the PGA Championship, but he's had a good excuse. Kevin and his wife, Mary, (mostly his wife) gave birth to their first child on August 28th.
 
'Yeah, we had a baby last Monday,' said Sutherland. 'My wife said `Why don't you go play golf this week,' so I said, `Okay.'
 

 
'I committed (within) the last 45 minutes.'
 
Parnevik was close to not competing this week either. Unhappy with his performance over the weekend at last week's Air Canada, Jesper considered not making the trip from British Columbia to Ontario. Last week, Parnevik led after two rounds, but wilted into a tie for 11th after rounds of 70-74.

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