Scotlands Laird Leads in Georgia

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2006 Athens Regional ClassicBOGART, Ga. -- Scotland's Martin Laird fired a 6-under-par 66 on Thursday to take the first-round lead of the Athens Regional Foundation Classic.
 
Steve Jones, the 1996 U.S. Open champion, Jim McGovern, Robin Freeman, Richard Johnson and Jeff Street are knotted in second place at Jennings Mill Country Club.
 
Laird began on the second nine Thursday, and collected his first birdie at the par-4 11th. He parred his next two holes, then went on a birdie run that propelled him up the leaderboard.
 
He reached the par-5 14th green in two and made birdie. The Scotsman rolled in a 20-footer for birdie at 15, then completed three in a row thanks to a chip-in birdie at 16.
 
Laird made the turn at 4 under par and went lower early in his second nine. He birdied the first and third holes to get into sole possession of the lead at minus-six.
 
Laird parred his next three holes to stay atop the leaderboard and padded his advantage at the par-5 seventh. He missed an eagle putt, but converted his birdie try to get to 7 under par.
 
His lead shrunk thanks to a miscue at the par-3 eighth. Laird missed a 6-footer for par, then parred No. 9 to grab first place.
 
'It was a good day from the start,' said Laird, whose best finish this season was a tie for 13th at the Livermore Valley Wine Country Championship at Wente Vineyards. 'I hit it really good (Wednesday) in the pro-am and I continued it today.'
 
Laird has not broken 70 on the Nationwide Tour since the third round of the Louisiana Open at the end of March. Even though he did tie for 13th at the beginning of April, Laird is happy to be on a slightly easier track.
 
'The course isn't as tough as the last couple of weeks,' said Laird. 'You still have to hit good shots. The conditions were great this morning. We didn't have any wind until the last few holes. With no rough and perfect greens, there should be low scores.'
 
Ricky Barnes, the 2002 U.S. Amateur Champion, Michael Letzig, Matt Peterson, Robert Damron, Chris Baryla and Jeremy Anderson are tied for seventh place at 4-under-par 68
 
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