No Easy Ride Home at Finale


2006 The TOUR Championship presented by Coca-ColaATLANTA -- Retief Goosen and Joe Durant carded rounds of 2-under-par 68 Thursday to share the lead after the first round of The TOUR Championship at East Lake Golf Club.
Vijay Singh and Stuart Appleby held a share of the lead until late bogeys on the back nine. That duo shares third place at minus-1 with Jim Furyk, Stewart Cink, Tom Pernice, Jr. and Adam Scott, who was one of two players to birdie No. 18 in the opening round.
Jim Furyk
Jim Furyk, the leading money winner in the event, is one back at 1-under-par 69.
On the 18th hole, only four players managed to get their tee shots within 25 feet of the cup at the 235-yard par-3. Three of the last four players to finish were among those four, as the wind died down later in the afternoon. Scott and Furyk were the only two players to convert birdie putts at the last.
The top-30 players on the PGA TOUR money list qualified for this event. Three players -- Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Stephen Ames -- are not playing this week. Bart Bryant, the 2005 winner, did not qualify to defend his crown.
Goosen tripped out of the gate with a bogey on the third. He parred the next four holes before draining a birdie putt on the par-4 eighth. Goosen came right back with a birdie on the ninth to move into red figures.
The South African got within one of Durant's lead with a birdie at the par-3 11th.
Goosen joined Singh and Durant in the lead at minus-3 with a birdie on the 15th. However, he tripped to a bogey at the last when he could not save par from a greenside bunker.
'It was totally different than the practice rounds. The practice rounds you felt like you could have shot seven-under,' said Goosen, who won this event in 2004. 'The way conditions were today was a big difference. It was cold and the wind was blowing hard. Because it's cold, the ball wasn't going anywhere into the wind.'
Durant got off to a quick start with birdies on three and four. He faltered to a bogey on the fifth. However, Durant recovered quickly with birdies at six and seven to take the lead at minus-3.
The 42-year-old tripped to another bogey on the 10th. He recovered that lost stroke with a birdie at the 12th. Durant fell back to minus-2 with a three-putt bogey on 16 and ended there with two pars.
'It was very difficult today. I felt the wind was across most of the holes. I felt like I was fly-casting a lot of times, trying to fight from keeping the ball going right on the left-to-right holes for me,' Durant stated. 'It was very difficult.
'Driving the ball was tough, but I managed my game fairly well. I stayed under the hole most of the time, which I think is very important on this golf course.'
Singh, the 2002 winner here, bogeyed the first, but four birdies on the front nine carried him into a share of the lead. Around the turn, things took a turn for the worse.
The Fijian could not get up and down from a bunker on 12 to slip to 2 under. He missed birdie putts ranging from 18 to 40 feet over the next three holes, then three-putted for bogey on 17 to slide one behind the leaders.
'I'm kind of disappointed,' said Singh of his round. 'The bogey on 12 was the easiest sand-wedge shot. The ball was sitting up and I thought the ball might jump, but it came out dead. Besides that, I played pretty well. It was unfortunate about two putts, but I'll take in these conditions.'
Singh has had a good week though as he was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame on Monday.
'You never dream of getting in there. Once you get in there, you know how big a deal it is and it is a big deal,' Singh admitted. 'I'm just proud to be one of the legends in there. I don't know if you can call me a legend, but it was special.'
Ernie Els, who shared second place here in 2001, posted a 1-over-par 71. He was joined in ninth place by Brett Quigley, J.J. Henry, Zach Johnson and Arron Oberholser.
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