Parnevik takes charge in Texas with sizzling 61

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HOUSTON, Oct 5 (Reuters) Sweden's Jesper Parnevik started the day with a bogey but bounced back with eight birdies on his next 11 holes on the way to a first round nine-under 61 and a four-shot lead at the Texas Open.

Sitting 138th on the PGA Tour's money list and battling to sneak into the top 125 to maintain his playing privileges, Parnevik got off to a stumbling start with a bogey five at the 10th at San Antonio's La Cantera Golf Club yesterday.

But it would be Parnevik only mistake of the day.

The veteran Swede, who recorded his last PGA Tour win in 2001, hit back with six birdies on his outward nine.

After birdies at the first and third, Parnevik eased up with a run of four consecutive pars but ended his day in style, nailing two more birdies at the eighth and ninth to complete the best round of his career.

''I came into this week feeling like the game was there,'' Parnevik told reporters.

''I played half the year with a broken finger and played about two months with a broken toe. So I'm about healed up now and it's nice to actually play a round where you don't have to work around injuries and so on.

''I know this is a course where everybody pretty much can shoot a low round at anytime so it's not a course where you can start going on the defense and protect your score.'' Behind Parnevik are 10 players at five-under 65, including major winners Justin Leonard and Bob Tway, and Swede Daniel Chopra, currently 124th on the money list.

American Eric Axley opened his title defense with a three-under 67 while Steve Flesch, chasing his third win in six starts after picking up victories at the Reno-Tahoe Open and the Turning Stone Resort Championship, struggled to a one-over 71.

Big-hitting John Daly and Canada's Stephen Ames, the highest ranked player in the field with most of golf's big names taking early vacations, both carded disappointing two-over 72s.

REUTERS BJR HT1417

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