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Bjorn, seeking fourth title of 2011, one back in Portugal

European Tour
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VILAMOURA, Portugal – South African golfer James Kingston shot an 8-under 64 to take a one-shot lead after the opening round of the Portugal Masters on Thursday.

Kingston leads five golfers, including Danish Ryder Cup player Thomas Bjorn, by one shot after making nine birdies – six of them on the back nine – and just one bogey at the Oceanico Victoria Golf Course.

“It was a really nice round of golf. I played really steadily, gave myself so many chances, and it was enjoyable,” the 45-year-old Kingston. “I put the ball in play most of the day, gave myself some really good approach shots into the greens and hit some really good pitch shots.”

Bjorn, who already has three European Tour wins this year, carded a faultless round of 7 under.

“I played nicely early on and rolled in a few good putts,” he said. “It got a bit scruffy towards the end.”

Also at 7 under were Northern Ireland’s Gareth Maybin, Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger, England’s Simon Khanand Wales’ Rhys Davies.

Three-time major champion Padraig Harrington of Ireland shot a 67 to finish with a host of players on 5 under, including Germany’s Martin Kaymer, the highest ranked player in the tournament at No. 6.

A total of 30 players were within three shots of the lead after the opening round.