Cauley & Dawson Off to Hot Start in McGladrey Classic

Bud Cauley and Marco Dawson fired 8-under 62s to share the first-round lead in the McGladrey Classic. The $4 million event, part of the PGA Tour's Fall Series, started Thursday at the Seaside Course on Sea Island, Ga.

The American duo tied the competitive course record. Cauley, a 22-year-old from Florida, posted eight birdies - including six on the back nine for a 6-under 29. Dawson, a 48-year-old born in Germany who now lives in Florida, started play on the 10th hole. He went out with five birdies for a 30 before coming home with four birdies and a bogey.

"Really no complaints today," said Cauley. "I've been struggling with my driving a little bit, and I've been working hard on that and was able to drive it really well today. And then took advantage of that with some great iron shots and made most of the putts, so all in all it was a really good day."

Cawley, with six top-10 finishes this season, has earned $1,732,765 to rank 42nd on the money list. Being well within the top-125 in earnings, the rookie is assured of a Tour card for 2013. Dawson, on the other hand, is in a much different situation with only $62,026 in earnings and 216th on the money list.

Dawson said he hasn't paid much attention to the money list. "I haven't because I'm so far away from it that the only thing I can do is just try and play well, and when I am playing well, just to keep it going instead of kind of messing it up like I have during the year."

Two strokes behind the leaders after shooting 64s are England's Greg Owen, American Boo Weekley and Aussie Rod Pampling. Another stroke back are Zach Johnson, tournament host Davis Love III, David Toms, Danny Lee, Joe Durant, Michael Thompson, Brian Gay, Camilo Villegas and Martin Flores.

Love played in the same group with Johnson and defending champion Ben Crane, who opened with a 68. "It was nice today," Love said. "It was a little soft, so it was hard to get the ball close to the hole with the wedges and stuff. We all hit it in a lot of fairways in our group, and we had a lot of birdie chances. We all could have shot a little bit lower than we did.

"But Zach didn't get off to a start with birdies and I did, and he made them all on the second nine. I told him we'd be a good best-ball team. It was nice out there. The greens were perfect, so you felt like you could make every putt."

Johnson will be seeking his third victory of the year this week. When asked whether this season is his best-ever on tour, the 2007 Masters champion and 2012 U.S. Ryder Cup team member said, "You could argue it. I could probably answer that question better next week. I've got my team, we're going to collaborate rate and kind of talk about the year, goals and the year to come.

"This one probably parallels and surpasses 2009, statistically and probably with goals," added the nine-time Tour winner. "A lot of positives, a lot of positives. Certainly some areas that if I can, I want to improve on. So I don't want to get content with it. Fortunately there's a lot of great players playing better than I am and winning a lot more than I am. So there's always that motivation."

Lee, a 22-year-old of Korean descent who grew up in New Zealand and became the youngest winner of the U.S. Amateur in 2008 at age 18, currently ranks 167th on the money list with $336,562. He knows a high finish this week will move him into the top-125.

"It feels like I got fire on my ass right now," he told reporters while laughing. "Just want to maintain this because I want to play on the PGA Tour for a long, long time. Top 150 you still get into a few events, so that's what I'm actually looking right now, but after this round, might turn around."

Jim Furyk is among several players who shot a 66 in ideal, virtually windless conditions. The 42-year-old Pennsylvanian hasn't played since the Ryder Cup at the end of September. "A little bit rusty," he said about how he felt Thursday. "I played a couple of rounds late last week at home with some friends of mine and got 27 holes in here with the Pro Am and nine holes on Tuesday. So still a little rusty.

"I tried to get away and clear my head, and it's been a long season, so I wanted to get away from golf, but I came out and I feel like I've been striking the ball real well. It's just a matter of making some good decisions and course management and the things that come with playing a lot."

Other scores included a 2-over 72 by Jonas Blixt, who won last week's Open for his first Tour title.

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