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Bettencourt, Tomasulo Start out Hot at Cool, Windy Texas Open
On a windy day that began with temperatures in the 40s and stinted scoring, Matt Bettencourt and Peter Tomasulo managed to do just fine, with each firing a 5-under 67 to take the first-round lead in the Valero Texas Open. The $6.2 million PGA Tour event began Thursday on the AT&T Oaks course at TPC San Antonio.
Bettencourt, a 37-year-old Californian whose only victory came in the 2010 Reno-Tahoe Open, carded three birdies and a bogey on the front nine, then added three more birdies on the home half. The 31-year-old Tomasulo, also from California, had five birdies and the rest pars.
The two enjoy a one-stroke edge over Ireland's Padraig Harrington, Billy Horschel, Harris English, and Bryce Molder.
Bettencourt has a simple plan as the leader. "I'm just going to go out (Friday) and have fun," he told reporters. "I haven't done anything great in golf in a couple of years. So I just want to go have fun, put the ball in play off the tee because it's a really fun golf course when you put it in play out here."
Harrington, for one, was just happy to escape the course with a decent score. "This morning, early on, it was a battle of survival. Last week back in Ireland it was snowing and I didn't feel this cold," the three-time major champion told PGATour.com.
"There was a feeling of 'Let's just hang in there and stay in the tournament.' Sometimes that lets you play a little bit more within yourself."
Several players carded 3-under 69s.
Rory McIlroy carded an even-par 72 that could have been much better. Starting on the 10th tee, the 23-year-old Northern Irishman was 2-under through eight holes but then had three straight bogeys - two on par-5s - before closing with two more birdies and a bogey.
"I started off well - got it to 2-under - then I threw in those silly mistakes I was talking about trying to eliminate," McIlroy told PGATour.com. "Made two bogeys on the par-5s and made a bogey with a wedge in my hands."
Like many in the field, McIlroy - who decided to play this week to get in more competitive rounds before next week's Masters - had difficulties with the shifting winds. "It's hard to make birdies out there, especially when the conditions are like they are today," he noted.
McIroy, who grew up playing windswept links in the UK, should be able to handle diverse conditions but is still sorting out his swing and new Nike clubs. "I need to limit those mistakes, definitely more mental mistakes than physical. Just stop doing them. I don't know; it's hard to explain. It comes with play. That's why I'm here this week," he added.
Defending champion Ben Curtis opened with a 2-over 74. The 2003 British Open winner is tied with, among others, 2013 WGC-Accenture Match Play champion Matt Kuchar and last week's Shell Houston Open winner, D.A. Points.
Thursday's high score was posted by South Korea's Sang-Moon Bae. The three-time Asian Tour winner had seven bogeys and two doubles en route to an 11-over 83.
Jeff Maggert withdrew after injuring his wrist while trying to escape a bunker on the par-5 14th (his fifth hole of the day). He was 3-over at the time. Andrew Svoboda also pulled out after finishing only three holes.
For all the scores, visit http://www.pgatour.com/leaderboard.html.
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