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LaBelle Long Lead Cox Classic

2006 Preferred Wichita OpenOMAHA, Neb. -- Doug LaBelle II and Michael Long each posted rounds of 8-under-par 63 on Thursday to share the opening-round lead of the Cox Classic.
Ryan Armour, Peter Tomasulo, Matt Hendrix, Scott Dunlap, Bradley Hughes, Kevin Johnson and Chez Reavie are knotted in third place at minus-7 at Champions Run.
LaBelle parred his first three holes, but broke into red figures with a 6-foot birdie putt at the fourth. He made it two in a row with an 8-footer at the fourth.
LaBelle tried to drive the green at the reachable, 315-yard, par-4 ninth, but instead found a bunker. He blasted out to 4 feet and canned the birdie putt to make the turn at 3-under-par 32.
At the par-5 10th, LaBelle reached the green in two and two-putted for a birdie from 40 feet. Two holes later, LaBelle hit a 4-iron to 6 feet to set up birdie at the par-3 12th.
He made consecutive pars at 13 and 14 and appeared destined to make another par at 15. Instead, LaBelle chipped-in from 30 feet for another birdie to reach 7 under par for the championship.
LaBelle hit another great shot at a par-5, this time a 3-iron landed 15 feet from the stick at the 17th. He two-putted for another birdie, then sank a 10-footer for birdie at the last to polish off his second opening-round 63 in as many starts on tour.
'I got off to a good ball-striking round early, but I didn't capitalize on my birdie opportunities,' admitted LaBelle. 'The greens are very receptive if you can control the spin on the short irons then the course is very scoreable. As straight as I usually drive it, that is my strength.'
LaBelle ranks sixth on the Nationwide Tour in driving accuracy and eighth on the money list. He won his last start, the Price Cutter Charity Championship, when he opened with a 63, but took seven days off for a wedding in South America.
Doesn't seem he's missed a beat.
'I'm just taking one shot at a time and right now, everything is working for me,' said LaBelle. 'I didn't touch a club and you don't know if that will take away your momentum. You just try to prepare mentally as best you can.'
Long began on the second nine and two-putted for birdie at the par-5 10th. He parred his next two, but rattled off back-to-back birdies from the 13th, both inside 5 feet.
Once again, the New Zealander parred his next two, but closed his opening nine in style. Long did not reach the green with his second shot at the par-5 17th, but chipped to tap-in range. He made it two in a row with a 25-foot birdie putt at 18 to make the turn at 5-under 31.
Long did not play as well on the second nine as he opened with three straight pars. He kicked in a 3-foot birdie putt at the fourth, then rolled in a 12-footer for birdie at five.
Long's drive at the ninth, found the putting surface and it took him two to get down for a birdie and a share of the lead.
'The birdies just fell in,' acknowledged Long, who is 39th on the Nationwide Tour money list. 'I started the year real solid, but the last month or so has been a little scratchy.'
Tom Carter, David Morland IV, Brendon de Jonge, Bryce Molder, Michael Sim, Steve Larick, Chris Tidland, Chris Anderson and Andrew Johnson share 10th place at 6-under-par 65.
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  • Full Coverage - Cox Classic