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Byrd leads in Hawaii

Updated: Sunday, 08 Jan 2012 10:52

Jonathan Byrd has a one stroke lead in Hawaii
Jonathan Byrd has a one stroke lead in Hawaii

Defending champion Jonathan Byrd fired a seven-under-par 66 on Friday to secure a one-shot lead after the first round of the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii.

The 33-year-old from South Carolina wasted little time finding his groove in breezy conditions on the Plantation Course at Kapalua, chalking up six consecutive birdies from the third hole.

"The front nine was fun," he said. "You're never sure what you've got starting off the first round of the year, first tournament, and I started off the first hole and didn't hit very good shots on that hole but made a really nice two-putt on the first hole, long putt, downwind, downgrain and lagged it up there close, and that eased me, calmed me down a little bit.

"I hit a good shot into the next hole, made a par. And then six straight birdies. I was just plugging along playing the golf course just trying to give myself looks, and the putts just kept going in."

A trio of Byrd's fellow Americans - Michael Bradley, Steve Stricker and Webb Simpson - and Scotland's Martin Laird were a shot back in a tie for second.

Laird was happy with his response after bogeying the second and third holes.

The 28-year-old Glasgow-born player, who lives in Scottsdale, Arizona, said: "I'm obviously very pleased with my round today, especially after my start - two over through three - and the wind was not exactly what you want.

"Pretty much the only two bad shots I hit all day were on two and three - hit it in the bunker both holes off the tee as far as my approach shots, missed short putts for par and then after that played great, really controlled my ball well in the wind."

US PGA champion Keegan Bradley was two shots off the pace after a 69, with South Korea's KJ Choi one stroke further adrift.

Lucas Glover withdrew from the tournament after injuring his knee in a paddleboard accident last weekend, leaving the field for the winners-only event at 27.

Glover, who won the Wells Fargo Championship to earn entry into the elite field at Kapalua, sprained the medial collateral ligament in his right knee when he fell off the board last Saturday.

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