Small Numbers in a Small World

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Without making ridiculous references to his surname, Bob Burns had one heck of round Thursday in earning a share of the lead in the Disney Golf Classic.
 
Burns fired a career-best 9-under-par 63 under the rules of lift, clean and place. He played the soggy Palm Course to the tune of nine birdies without a bogey.
 
Incidentally, his wife of less than two months, Jayme, decided to sleep in this morning, as Burns was in the first group out at 7:30 AM ET.
 
Some support, huh? he joked.
 
Burns low score wasnt enough to distance himself from anyone, as Hidemichi Tanaka and Jeff Sluman also shot 63s.
 
'We get out hands on the ball at the Palm, and you darn well better not go out and fire a 74, or you're going to have some park time on the weekend,' said Sluman.
 
Tanaka made 10 birdies and a lone bogey at the host Magnolia Course, where they did not clean and replace. The diminutive Japanese player also established a new career-best on tour, after shooting 64 in each of his last two events.
 
'During the practice round I figured out that there is really no very tricky holes here, no big hazards of any kind. So I felt comfortable going into this tournament during the practice rounds,' Tanaka said through an interpreter.
 
Scott Hoch, an Orlando resident, birdied five of his final seven holes at the Palm in carding an 8-under 64.
 
He is tied for fourth place with Chad Campbell, Rookie of the Year candidate Peter Lonard, Chris DiMarco and Joe Durant, who played alongside Sluman.
 
'I didn't get the honors today until the 13th tee,' Sluman said. 'We both birdied 2. We both birdied 6. We both birdied 7. We both birdied 8, and then we both birdied 10. What do you got to go to get the honors? We fed off of each other.'
 
Birdies were flying in high numbers Thursday. There were 112 players who broke par in the first round.
 
Also playing the Palm, Tiger Woods shook off the 'rust' accumulated from a two-week break for a 6-under 66.
 
The two-time Disney champion was 3-under through his first seven holes before blocking his tee shot right on the par-4 17th, and taking bogey.
 
I dont think Ive ever hit a ball that far right. If it was with a iron, I would have shanked it, Woods said.
 
Tiger recovered on the front side ' his back 9 ' by birdieing holes 2 and 3, and 5-7. He concluded his day, however, with a bogey at the ninth.
 
There are days when you just slap it around and get it in the hole somehow, and other parts of the game are going to be better than others. Today was a perfect example of that, said Woods, who hit eight of 14 fairways and took 27 putts.
 
I really putted well. I made a lot of putts today. And thats what you have to do out here, you know its going to be a birdie-fest.'
 
While Woods has already secured his fourth consecutive money title, Burns is just trying to secure his spot on the tour for next season.
 
The 34-year-old, who lists beer brewing as one of his special interests, is currently 118th on the money list. And even with this being one of only three full-field tournaments remaining on the 2002 schedule, he still feels hes on shaky ground.
 
Its kind of scary how high its going to be to keep your card. I think Im right on the number at the end of the year, 530 (thousand), maybe something like that to keep your card, said Burns, who has made $533,802 thus far.
 
Burns could have locked up his card earlier in the season, but was burned at the Kemper Open. After acing the par-3 11th to take a two-shot lead on the field in the final round, he made double bogey at the par-4 16th when his approach shot ' which should have finished some 15 feet from the hole ' bounded off the dried out greens and into a trough.
 
He finished tied for third, a result that was two-pronged. For one, it was a bitter defeat for a man who entered this weeks event 0-for-172 on the PGA Tour. But on the flipside, that $208,800 payday is the primary reason he is currently stationed inside the top 125 on the money list.
 
I got a break when I made the hole-in-one at Kemper to put me in position to win. And I got a pretty bad break on 16. But I hit the shot I was trying to hit in the fairway, Burns said.
 
Youre not going to see a bounce like that on this golf course. So hopefully, Im right there again with three holes to play, you know, and Ill be able to pull off the shot that I want to.
 
Full-field scores from the Disney Golf Classic