POTOMAC (Maryland): Robert Gamez, without a victory since winning twice on his Rookie of the Year season in 1990, shot a five-under-par 66 to snatch the first-round lead at the US$4.5 million Kemper Open on Thursday.
Gamez shook off the disappointment of failing to qualify for next week’s US Open by moving one stroke ahead of US PGA champion Rich Beem, who won this event in 1999, and Notah Begay III.
Seven players were tied for fourth place on 68, Canadian Glen Hnatiuk, Scotland’s Paul Lawrie, Sweden’s Niclas Fasth, South African Rory Sabbatini, Patrick Sheehan, US Ryder Cup captain Hal Sutton and Tom Gillis.
With the US Open next on the schedule, only three of the world’s top-10 ranked players are in the field, number three Davis Love III, Phil Mickelson (6) and Padraig Harrington (7) of Ireland.
Love and Harrington opened with one-under-par 70s but Mickelson struggled to a 75.
Gamez opened on the back nine at the 7,005-yard TPC at Avenel course and birdied his first hole, the par-four 10th. He then picked up shots at the 13th, 14th and 15th to go out in a four-under 31.
On the front nine, Gamez had two birdies and two bogeys before closing with another birdie at the par-three ninth. He hit 16 of Avenel’s 18 greens, which are considered small by PGA Tour standards, and took 28 putts. – Reuters