Carefree approach puts Overton into contention in Las Vegas

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LAS VEGAS, Oct 12 (Reuters) Jeff Overton was rewarded for his fun-loving approach when he surged into a tie for third place in the opening round of the Las Vegas Open.

Bidding for his maiden PGA Tour title, the little-known American fired a seven-under-par 65 at the TPC Summerlin to finish two strokes behind the pacesetting Bob May yesterday.

''I came into this week just wanting to have a good time,'' Overton told reporters after rattling up eight birdies, an eagle and three bogeys in ideal conditions.

''It's Vegas and my plan is to have fun and go make as many birdies as I can.'' Overton relishes playing desert golf in the world's gambling capital and is using a professional poker player as his caddie for the week.

''His name is Pat Cruise and he's from my hometown,'' said Overton, who secured the winning point for the United States in his last-day singles match at the 2005 Walker Cup.

''We're just out there having some fun and making a lot birdies. I hit a lot of really good drives today, I just bombed it. My driving average had to be over 330 (yards).

''I had a bunch of flip wedges in and kept hitting them close. And I was able to knock down a lot of my 10-footers.

Everything I had inside 10 feet for birdie or eagle I made so that was good.'' Overton briefly got to eight under when he birdied the 15th but bogeyed the par-five 16th after hitting his second shot into water.

''I think I opened the club face a little bit, just enough that the ball kind of rolled up my club off the Bermuda (grass) and it came up a few yards short,'' he said of his strike with an eight-iron. ''Overall, though, it was a fun round.'' REUTERS BJR HS1003

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