May swoops into Vegas lead with brace of eagles

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LAS VEGAS, Oct 12 (Reuters) American Bob May, boosted by two eagles, swept to the top of the leaderboard with a sparkling nine-under-par 63 in the Las Vegas Open first round.

May ended a glorious day of sunshine and very little wind at the TPC Summerlin ahead of compatriot Jason Gore, who shot an eight-under 63 at the TPC Canyons yesterday.

The 144-strong field play the opening two rounds on each of the co-hosting venues before the action switches to the Summerlin layout for the weekend.

May, sidelined for more than two seasons after the 2003 Byron Nelson Championship because of a back injury, was delighted to be contending in front of his home fans.

''I would love to have a shot for it (on Sunday),'' the 39-year-old Las Vegas resident told reporters of his bid for a maiden PGA Tour title.

''It's nice to finally get a good round under my belt,'' added May, who played the Tour on a medical exemption last year. ''I still feel like I'm trying to fight my way back in.

''I've actually struck the ball very well this year. I just haven't got anything out of it. Hopefully I'm going to start getting something out of it.'' May, who eagled the par-five third and par-four 15th, is best known for his duel with Tiger Woods in the 2000 PGA Championship at Valhalla where he was edged out in a playoff.

Gore, whose card featured 10 birdies and a double-bogey at the par-three 12th, made the most of having former TPC Canyons club professional Mike Messner on his bag.

HEAD SCRATCHING ''I basically stood over to the side of the green, scratch my head and wait for him to tell me where to hit it,'' Gore said. ''It was quite low stress.

''It's one of those tournaments where you go out and you aim at a lot of flags. The greens are perfect, the fairways are perfect and there is no rough. This is fun to us.'' Rich Beem fired a 64 at the Canyons to share third spot at seven under with fellow Americans Jeff Overton, D J Trahan and Cameron Beckman, who carded 65s at Summerlin.

Trahan, who clinched his maiden PGA Tour title at last year's Southern Farm Bureau Classic, was delighted to find form with his putter after a frustrating season.

''The conditions were pretty good for scoring and I was able to take advantage of that,'' the 26-year-old Atlanta native said after taking a total of 26 putts.

''I hit the ball very well, hit a lot of greens and putted well. I've made a lot of cuts this year but I haven't finished well. It's just been a struggle getting momentum with the putter, if I could find any at all.'' Among the big names in the field, 2003 Masters champion Mike Weir opened with a 69 at the Canyons while twice major winner John Daly shot a 74 over the same layout.

American Troy Matteson, who claimed last year's title by a stroke, returned a 69 at Summerlin.

REUTERS BJR RAI1005

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