Plenty of Red in Greensboro

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2006 Chrysler Classic of GreensboroGREENSBORO, N.C. -- Brent Geiberger, the 2004 champion, John Rollins and Nick Watney all fired rounds of 8-under-par 64 on Thursday to share the first-round lead of the Chrysler Classic of Greensboro.
 
John Senden, Robert Gamez, Tag Ridings, Mike Sposa, James Driscoll and Charley Hoffman are knotted in fourth place at 6-under-par 66 at Forest Oaks Country Club.
 
Brent Geiberger
2004 champion Brent Geiberger made eight birdies and no bogeys in the first round.
Thursday saw near perfect weather conditions and, therefore, scoring conditions were optimal. Ninety-eight players broke par in Thursday's opening round.
 
Geiberger parred his first six holes before he knocked an 8-iron to 15 feet to set up birdie at the seventh. He found a bunker with his second at the par-5 ninth, but blasted out to 3 feet for another birdie.
 
He continued his strong play around the turn when he hit a 9-iron 6 feet behind the hole at the 10th. Geiberger converted that birdie putt, then parred 11 before a huge birdie run.
 
Geiberger's 6-iron tee ball at the 12th ran to the back fringe, but he sank the 14-foot birdie putt to reach 4 under par. He two-putted for a birdie at 13, hit an 8-iron inside a foot for a birdie at 14, then made a 5-footer at 15 to cap off four consecutive birdies.
 
The 38-year-old got to 8 under par at the long, par-3 17th. Geiberger played a 3-iron 15 feet left of the hole and converted the breaking birdie putt. He parred the 18th to shoot his lowest round of the season.
 
'That was a nice way to start off the tournament for sure,' said Geiberger. 'I played solid today. I missed a little birdie putt on the third hole and I got a little pissed off and made sure I made some the rest of the way.'
 
This is reminiscent of 2004 as Geiberger came into that event needing a big paycheck to earn his PGA TOUR card for the following year. He won that tournament and now, 144th on the money list, needs a strong finish in 2006 if he is to play the PGA TOUR in 2007.
 
'I haven't really been thinking about it,' said Geiberger. 'I feel pretty comfortable out there playing. It's very similar to '04. I would love to start out the year right now because it would be a completely different story.'
 
Rollins flew out of the gate on Thursday with a 12-foot birdie putt at the first. He parred the next two, but converted a 10-footer for birdie at the par-3 fourth.
 
At the par-4 sixth, Rollins knocked his approach close and tapped in the short birdie putt. He made it two in a row at seven when his 11-foot birdie try found the bottom of the cup. Rollins closed out his front nine in style when his second at the par-5 hole missed the putting surface. He chipped to 8 feet and ran home the birdie putt to make the turn at 5-under-par 31.
 
The second nine featured much of the same for Rollins, who finished 11th on this year's United States Ryder Cup team. He holed a 15-foot birdie putt at No. 11, then took advantage of par -5s on the back nine. Rollins two-putted for birdies at both holes and walked to the par-3 17th tee at 7 under par.
 
Rollins pulled a 3-iron out of the bag at 227-yard 17th and admitted after the round it was the wrong club. He missed the green, then chipped across the green with his second. Rollins almost chipped in for par, but instead tapped in for bogey.
 
He redeemed himself at the par-4 closing hole. Rollins rolled in a 32-foot birdie putt to polish off his 8 under par and join Geiberger atop the leaderboard.
 
'You can't win today, so I knew that even if I made par on 18, I was still in good position,' said Rollins, who won this year's B.C. Open for his second TOUR victory. 'I was disappointed with the tee shot on 17, but I didn't let it get to me.'
 
Watney began on the back nine Thursday and collected a birdie at his first. He added a 12-foot birdie putt at 12, an 8-footer at 13 and a 20-foot putt at 14 to reach 4 under par through his first five holes.
 
Watney tallied one more birdie on his first nine, a 50-footer at the 16th.
 
At the first, Watney sank a 15-foot birdie putt, but dropped a shot when he missed a 5-foot par putt at the third. Watney recorded birdies at four, seven and nine to join the leaders.
 
'I putted very well, made some early so it was nice,' said Watney. 'Putting has kind of been holding me back lately, so it was nice to see some putts fall.'
 
Tim Clark, the top-ranked player in the field at No. 20, shot a 5-under-par 67 and is tied for 10th place with defending champion K.J. Choi, Brian Gay, Jonathan Byrd, Chris Smith, Ryan Moore, Rob Whittaker, Robert Damron, Arjun Atwal, Kris Cox, John Engler and last week's playoff loser, Joe Durant.
 
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