Roberts on Top at Western Open


Cialis Western OpenLEMONT, Ill. -- Loren Roberts fired a 7-under-par 64 on Thursday to take the opening-round lead at the Western Open. Robert Allenby was one shot back after a round of 65.
Ben Curtis, who is preparing to defend his British Open title at Troon, joined Chad Campbell, Stephen Ames, Jonathan Byrd, J.L. Lewis, Robert Gamez and Mark Hensby in a tie for third at 4-under-par 67.
Defending champion Tiger Woods got back to action Thursday at Cog Hill for his first competitive round since a tough showing at Shinnecock. The top player in the game, who has since patched up his differences with former swing coach Butch Harmon, got off to a good start with back-to-back birdies starting at the par-4 fourth.
The 28-year-old soon found trouble, however, with a bogey at the sixth and a double bogey at the eighth. Woods looked to be in trouble again at the par-5 ninth after his third shot flew over the green, but he drained a 10-foot putt for par to make the turn at 1 over.
Woods got back to even-par with a birdie at the 11th and broke into red figures with a birdie at the 13th. Woods added a birdie at the 17th but closed with a bogey at the last for a round of 70.
'Well, I didn't play all that well today,' said Woods, a three-time winner of this event. 'I got off to a great start and lost it in the middle of the round and got it back towards the end. I haven't quite put it all together. Either I hit the ball great and miss everything or hit it like a dog and make every putt I'm looking at.'
Roberts jumped out of the gate with a birdie at the par-3 second and hit his tee shot to 12 feet for a birdie at the par-3 sixth. Roberts followed with a birdie at the seventh and knocked his approach inside 11 feet for a birdie at the par-4 eighth to make it three in a row.
'I drove the ball in the fairway just about every hole,' said Roberts. 'If you're going to make some putts, it equates to a low score.'
The 49-year-old missed a couple of birdie opportunities early on the back nine, but his putting came through down the stretch starting with a birdie at the par-3 14th.
Roberts hit his third shot out of a bunker to 5 feet for a birdie at the par-5 15th and drained a 12-foot putt for a birdie at the par-4 17th to finish off a bogey-free round.
'I had the ball in good position today,' said Roberts, who tied for third at this event in 1990 after opening with a 65. 'I didn't get it above the hole very often. I was always pretty much under the hole and I didn't have any tough putts.'
Roberts, an eight-time winner on the PGA Tour, has only one top-10 finish in 2004, a tie for 10th at the Nissan Open. He held the lead after the third round of the Buick Classic last month, but a final-round 78 left him seven shots out of a playoff. Despite that disappointing Sunday, Roberts has been able to move on.
'I had a bad putting day,' said Roberts, whose last win came at the 2002 Texas Open. 'I just got off to a bad start the first nine holes that day and didn't play well. You know, I've been out here long enough, I forget about those things.'
Allenby, who won this event in a playoff in 2000, used a strong finish to take second place alone. After picking up a pair of birdies and a bogey on the back side, Allenby countered with birdies at the second and the fifth to move to minus-3.
The Australian then birdied each of his last three holes to finish one shot off the pace.
Curtis tallied four birdies and a bogey over his first nine holes but stumbled on the back side with two straight bogeys starting at the 13th. Curtis countered at the par-5 15th and ran home a 35-foot putt for an eagle.
The 27-year-old, who will soon head across the pond to defend the major he came out of nowhere to win a year ago, added a birdie at the 17th for his round of 67.
'It's going to be a crazy week anyway just because I'm defending champ, but it's going to be a lot of fun,' Curtis said of the upcoming British Open. 'I'm looking forward to it.'
K.J. Choi, Skip Kendall, Steve Lowery, Scott Simpson, Michael Allen, Dan Forsman, Chris Smith, Dean Wilson, Kevin Sutherland, Woody Austin, Geoff Ogilvy, D.J. Brigman and David Branshaw share 10th place at 3-under-par 68.
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