Cink on the Rise at Colonial

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2006 Bank of America ColonialFORT WORTH, Texas -- Stewart Cink fired a 6-under-par 64 on Thursday and holds a one-shot lead after the first round of the Colonial.
 
Several players took a run at Cink's clubhouse lead, but none managed to surpass it. Bubba Watson, Arron Oberholser, Stephen Ames, Zach Johnson and Charley Hoffman all finished at 5-under-par 65.
 
Jim Furyk
Jim Furyk is two back after a 4-under 66 Thursday.
Defending champion and two-time Colonial winner Kenny Perry opened with a 4-under 66 at Colonial Country Club and leads a group of eight players tied for seventh place.
 
Perry is playing in his second tournament after missing two months due to arthroscopic surgery on his right knee. He was joined at minus-4 by Nick O'Hern, Jason Gore, Mike Weir, Bill Haas, Ryan Palmer, Peter Lonard and Jim Furyk, the highest-ranked player in the field at world No. 5.
 
Cink orchestrated a bogey-free round despite hitting too many of what he called 'anyway shots' -- where he felt like he wasn't ready to hit but did so anyway.
 
'A lot of times you mess those shots up and you wish you had them back. But really the most dangerous times is when you hit those types of shots and you hit them perfect,' Cink said. 'Then you lull yourself into thinking you can do it every time. I really have to watch that.'
 
At least some of those 'anyway shots' found their intended targets early on, as Cink opened his round with three consecutive birdies.
 
He called the first two birdies 'stress-free' -- two-putts at the par-5 first, and a 2-foot putt for birdie at the second -- but Cink needed a 20-footer for his birdie at the third.
 
His almost-instant, 3-under score helped calm some nerves.
 
'Not that I was real anxious starting today or anything,' Cink said. 'I was not getting too excited. I knew the hard holes were coming and [I was] just trying to take each shot for what it was. It is what it is -- I was telling myself that all day.'
 
Cink followed those birdies with consecutive pars, then birdied two of the next four holes to make the turn at minus-5.
 
After missing a 6-foot birdie try at the ninth, Cink was within striking distance on every hole on the back nine, though a 6-foot birdie putt at the par-4 14th was the only interruption to the long string of pars.
 
'I definitely left some (shots) out there,' Cink admitted. 'On the back nine every hole I was 15 feet at the most. I had a few long putts, but for most I was looking for birdies.'
 
Cink ranked tied for 36th in the field with 29 putts in his first round. Not bad, but not great for the leader.
 
'To shoot that low you have to putt really well, and you are not going to make them all,' Cink said. 'It could have been better. I'm not complaining -- everyone is going to come off their round saying they could have done a little better. I'm pleased with the way I played.'
 
A four-time winner on the PGA TOUR, Cink has made the cut in nine of his 11 starts this season, with top-10 finishes coming at the Sony Open and The Masters. He hasn't won a tournament in two years.
 
'If I can keep going like this, you know, stay in the present and just keep on doing my thing, then I think I might be there at the end,' said Cink.
 
Ames tied Cink for the lead with a birdie at the first -- his 10th hole -- then surpassed him with a 3-foot birdie putt at the next to reach 7 under. But he bogeyed the next two holes, and three of his final seven overall, while getting one back with a birdie on his final hole.
 
Oberholser birdied four holes during one five-hole stretch to pull within one shot of Cink's lead. He ended his round with five straight pars.
 
Watson played his first nine holes at even-par, then was 5 under over the next nine.
 
Johnson was bogey-free over his final 15 holes after stumbling to bogeys on two of his first three holes.
 
Hoffman claimed his place behind Cink with a bogey-free round that included three birdies on his final six holes.
 
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