American Kanada sets early pace with 67 at Ginn Classic

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MIAMI, Oct 26 (Reuters) American journeyman Craig Kanada reeled off four consecutive birdies on his way to an early one-shot lead in the Ginn Classic first round at Port St. Lucie.

The 39-year-old Oregon native, who has missed the cut in his last five PGA Tour starts, fired a six-under-par 67 in breezy conditions at Tesoro Club's Palmer Course yesterday.

Two ahead with one hole to play, Kanada ran up a three-putt bogey at the par-four ninth to lead compatriots Frank Lickliter II, Steve Flesch, Kevin Na and Michael Putnam by a stroke.

Japan's Shigeki Maruyama opened with a seven-birdie 69 to lie a further shot back with Americans Mark Brooks and Ted Purdy.

Kanada, who has bounced between the PGA Tour and the lower tier Nationwide Tour since turning professional in 1991, was delighted with his pin-point approach play.

''I was comfortable with the yardages I had, hit some good shots and they ended up close to the hole,'' he told reporters after launching his four-birdie run by rolling in a 10-footer at the par-four 18th.

''The ball started going in the hole for birdies and that hasn't been happening lately. The last five weeks I really haven't struck it all that bad but nothing's been going in.'' With just two PGA Tour events remaining this season, Kanada has his sights set on edging into the top 125 in the money list to secure full playing privileges for next year.

''I'm just glad to be here, I guess,'' he said. ''It's been a long year but I've got two more tournaments. Being 127, I need to play them both and try and make a little bit more to get into the top 125.

''I've been doing this for long enough where I know that being inside of 125 would be a really good thing. But, at the same time, I've been in a lot worse positions in my career so 126 to 150 actually sounds pretty good.'' Former British Open champion Mark Calcavecchia, the highest-ranked player in the field, battled to an opening 78 which included a triple-bogey at the par-four 13th.

REUTERS BJR RN1329

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