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Goosen Perry Set Sony Pace

HONOLULU - Retief Goosen and Kenny Perry fired matching rounds of 6-under-par 64 Thursday to share the opening-round lead of the Sony Open in Hawaii.
This week's event at Waialae Country Club is the PGA Tour's first full-field event of 2003. Last week's Mercedes Championships was reserved for winners from the 2002 PGA Tour calendar.
Chris DiMarco, Chris Riley and Brenden Pappas are tied for third place at 5-under 65.
Ernie Els, who posted the PGA Tour's lowest score in relation to par (31-under) at last week's Mercedes Championships, headlines a group at 4-under 66. Robert Gamez, Dicky Pride, Chris Smith, Shigeki Maruyama, Chad Campbell, Aaron Baddeley, Peter Lonard and Fred Funk joined Els in sixth place.
Goosen, the 2001 U.S. Open champion, was the first of the leaders into the clubhouse and it was a magnificent approach at the par-5 18th that put him there. He landed a 3-iron from 245 yards 15 feet from the hole and sank the eagle putt to reach 64.
'Just a soft 3-iron,' said Goosen, referring to the sensational shot at No. 18.
Goosen holed a clutch 15-footer for par at the fifth and that seemed to spark the remainder of his front nine. He drained an eight-foot birdie putt at six and made it two birdies in a row with a 15-footer at No. 7. Goosen two-putted from 30 feet at the par-5 ninth to polish off a front-nine, 3-under-par 32.
'I holed a good par putt at No. 5 and that got me going,' said Goosen, who outlasted Mark Brooks in a playoff to win the U.S. Open at Southern Hills. 'It was dead calm this morning but it was a club wind on the back nine.'
The South African made a 25-foot birdie putt at the 10th but collected seven pars in a row until the eagle at 18.
'The putter went dry in the middle of the round,' said Goosen. 'This week will be tough with the wind. It's a very tricky course with the wind - small greens and heavy rough.'
Perry, who lost a playoff to Brooks in a major, the 1996 PGA Championship, got off to a poor start with a three-putt bogey from 12 feet at the first. He recorded seven straight pars from there until a long eagle putt at nine.
Perry caught fire on Waialae's back nine with five birdies en route to a back-nine 30 and a piece of the first-round lead for the second year in a row at this event.
'I've been working on some new shots, and my caddie said this would be a practice-round week,' said Perry, whose last victory on tour came at the 2001 Buick Open. 'All of a sudden, I started executing some flawless shots.'
Els struggled with two bogeys in his first five holes but tallied an eagle, five birdies and a bogey the rest of the way for his 66.
'I had to find my bearings again,' Els said. 'It was a tough mental battle, but once I got over that, I thought about playing my game. It was a good round to establish a good score and get stuck into the week.'
The reigning British Open champion knows that this week will be more challenging than last week's scoring feast at Kapalua Resort.
'It's a lot more difficult to score on this golf course with a lot of par-4s and par-3s,' Els said. 'We don't normally kill those holes; we normally kill the par-5s.'
Vijay Singh, Sergio Garcia and Jim Furyk were part of a logjam at 3-under-par 67. Jerry Kelly, who earned his first PGA Tour victory here last year, posted a 2-under 68 in the opening round of his first title defense.
Related Links
  • Full-field scores from the Sony Open
  • Full coverage of the Sony Open