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Furyk Leads Woods at NEC

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Jim Furyk - noted more for his accuracy than his length - handled the soggy, par-70, 7,139-yard Firestone Course Thursday in just 65 strokes.
 
Furyk grabbed the early clubhouse lead at 5-under-par at the $5 million WGC-NEC Invitational in Akron, OH.
 
The native Pennsylvanian carded five birdies and no bogeys in the first round.
 
Two-time defending champion Tiger Woods and Thomas Bjorn are just one back after carding a pair of 4-under 66s.
 
Furyk made three birdie putts of over 15 feet, chipped in for birdie at the 16th, and then concluded his day with a 25-foot birdie putt on the home hole.
 
Obviously, Im very happy, said Furyk, who won this year's Mercedes Championships. Sixty-fives a great score on this course, especially in these conditions.
 
Overnight and morning rains added length to the course. The fairway provided little roll, yet offered a sanctuary from the penal rough.
 
You have to hit your ball straight, Furyk said. You cant reach the green playing from the rough.
 
Furyk played alongside Carlos Franco in round one. The Paraguayan has increased his practice routine over the past three months. He arrived Monday on site and worked diligently on finding the proper driver.
 
He never did.
 
Franco hit only seven of 14 fairways on Thursday; though, he still managed to birdie the 18th to shoot 2-under 68.
 
Oddly, the same driver will stay in the bag come Friday.
 
Same driver, same mental (approach), only play better, said Franco.
 
With the course bearing a resemblance to the lengthy monster they played in the PGA Championship, the driver may be the most important club in the bag this week.
 
If thats the case, Mark Calcavecchia may be in trouble.
 
Calcavecchia shot a 2-over-par 72, hitting only seven fairways. His erratic driver led to poor iron play.
 
I played terrible, as bad as I can play, he said. I tried a new driver and couldnt keep (the ball) from going right. I tried to fight that, but then that messed up my irons and I kept hitting them left. I was completely screwed up.
 
I tried to give (my driver) away on the 18th, but I couldnt find a kid to give it toI may just run over it with my courtesy car.
 
Calcavecchia, a member of the U.S. Ryder Cup team played with Paul McGinley. The Irishman is currently 8th in the European Ryder Cup standings.
 
Thursday, McGinley shot 68 to help solidify his efforts.
 
A really good, solid round of golf, McGinley said of his play. The course is so different today than practice. I hit every club in my bag, except my 3-wood.