England’s Brian Davis and Greg Owen lie two shots behind first-round co-leaders Paul Goydos and Justin Leonard at the Valero Texas Open following a day of low scoring on Thursday at La Cantera near San Antonio.
Owen, in his first year back on the US PGA Tour having lost his card at the end of 2007, and Davis, fresh from his top-10 finish at last week’s Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass, each shot five-under-par 65s on the par-70, 6,896-yard Resort Course, to end the day in a tie for sixth place.
Owen had been at six-under until bogeying his 14th hole to fall back into a share of second place but got back on track with a birdie at the par-three sixth, his 15th, only to then bogey the par-four seventh.
“There were a lot more chances out there,” Owen said, “but the wind picked up in the last hour or so and I played very well.
“There were a lot of ups and downs on the back nine, the front side I played very solid.”
Goydos and Leonard will begin the second round on Friday with a one-stroke lead over fellow American Jeff Maggert after an opening 63.
Goydos carded the only bogey of his opening round at the par-four 18th to spoil what had been a blemish free, eight-birdie round, which finished three strokes off the course record of 60 shot by Bart Bryant in 2004, a score that contributed to his victory that year.
“All in all, good day,” Goydos said.
“Good scoring day, and again, everything kind of went my way today more so than I played great golf as much as I had a lot of good breaks and made a lot of putts when you kind of needed to make putts to keep things going.”
Leonard, bidding to become the first Texan to win the tournament, chipped in at the par-four 18th for a birdie to join Goydos with a bogey-free round.
Fellow Texan Maggert had only the one bogey on his scorecard on the way to a 64, while Australian Marc Leishman matched that score after a round of eight birdies and two bogeys and American Ted Purdy produced an eagle, six birdies and two bogeys.
Davis, who tied for fifth place at The Players', had also started from the 10th tee, opening with a bogey.
He quickly made amends with four birdies over the next six holes but then bogeyed the par-four 18th to make the turn in 33, two under.
Davis’s inward nine began well with back to back birdies before a bogey five at the fifth, his 14th checked his progress.
The Londoner then moved back into contention with consecutive birdies at the seventh and eighth, ending the day at five under.
In a tie for eighth on four under following rounds of 66, were Stephen Ames of Canada, US Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin, fellow veteran and two-time US Open champion Lee Janzen and David Duval, the 2001 Open champion hoping to make the cut for only the third time this year in his 11th start of the season.
A group of 16 players finished for the day at three under, including Swedish duo Mathias Gronberg and Fredrik Jacobson, Tom Clark of South Africa and Americans Bob Estes, and John Mallinger all having carded 67s while Tim Herron of the United States and Charlie Wi of South Korea led a group of 15 in with two-under 68s that also included defending champion Zach Johnson and Texan Ryder Cupper Chad Campbell.
Germany’s Alex Cejka, five days on from his final-round collapse at The Players, will have been wishing he could rewind seven days to his first round at Sawgrass.
Cejka, who lost a five-shot overnight lead after just the first six holes of his final round at TPC Sawgrass, shot a three-over 73 at La Cantera.