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American Taylor takes charge at Heritage with 63

Written by: Staff
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MIAMI, Apr 14 (Reuters) American Vaughn Taylor birdied two of the last three holes for an eight-under-par 63 and a one-shot lead in the Heritage Classic first round at Hilton Head, South Carolina yesterday.

The 30-year-old from Augusta, Georgia made a quiet start with five consecutive pars after teeing off at the par-four 10th on a warm, clear day at the Harbour Town Golf Links.

He then reeled off four birdies in a row to reach the turn in four-under 31 and picked up five more shots on his back nine to finish one stroke ahead of compatriot Jim Furyk.

''Last week Augusta (National) played tough,'' Taylor told reporters, referring to his missed cut at the US Masters. ''It was good to get on a birdie train for a while today. It was a lot of fun.

''Last week was very nerve-wracking and hectic, although it was fun playing in front of the home crowd. I came in this week and it just feels easy. It's very relaxed, laid back.'' Taylor, who has missed four cuts in his last five PGA Tour starts, has set his sights on winning a ''regular'' tour event.

His two career victories on the PGA Tour, at the Rene-Tahoe Open in 2004 and again last year, were achieved in the same week the world's top 50 players were competing at the WGC-NEC Invitational.

''We all know that it's a week opposite a bigger tournament,'' Taylor said of the Rene-Tahoe Open.

''I really want to win a regular event and prove to everyone that I'm not just capable of winning an opposite event. It's definitely a goal of mine to win a tournament on Tour.'' BOGEY-FREE DISPLAY World number eight Furyk, one of six players in the top 15 playing at Hilton Head, collected seven birdies in a bogey-free display.

He did well to save par at the first two holes, where he missed the green with his approach shots, and took advantage of near-perfect scoring conditions with four birdies in the last eight holes.

''It's good to start out with a couple of up and downs,'' said 2003 US Open champion Furyk, who also teed off at the 10th. ''I had an opportunity to drop a shot and I kept it going. It's a boost.

''Coming here, I felt pretty decent about my game, but you never know what's going to happen. You just come out and take it one shot at a time.'' Fellow Americans Tom Pernice junior, Billy Mayfair and Duffy Waldorf carded matching 65s while Australia's Geoff Ogilvy, surprise winner of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in February, was among a group of four on 66.

World number 11 Chris DiMarco, five-times winner Davis Love III and British Ryder Cup player Ian Poulter opened with 69s and Germany's Bernhard Langer, the 1985 champion, carded a 70.

Of the other big names playing in the 16th event on the 2006 PGA Tour, 1997 champion Nick Price of Zimbabwe and John Daly returned 70s while 1984 winner Nick Faldo battled to a 76.

World number five Ernie Els, three over after 10 holes, recovered to shoot a 71, finishing level with twice Masters champion Jose Maria Olazabal and holder Peter Lonard of Australia.

Lonard, who survived a roller-coaster 76 in the final round last year to clinch his maiden PGA Tour victory, offset two birdies with two bogeys.

REUTERS DH BD0535

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