Cameron Beckman handled the windy conditions at the MCI Heritage yesterday, shooting a 4-under-par 67 for the highest leading score in the opening round at the Harbour Town Golf Links since 1992.
Beckman made a 16-foot birdie putt on his last hole, the ninth, for a surprisingly high number at the 6,973-yard, par-71 Hilton Head Island, S.C., seaside layout that often yields low rounds.
"You feel that breeze out there?" said Jonathan Byrd, who was tied with Heath Slocum, British Open champ Ben Curtis, Rod Pampling, and Jay Haas at 68.
Nick Price, the 1997 winner at Harbour Town, was at 3 under after making a birdie on the par-3 17th hole. But his approach to the famous No. 18 lighthouse hole from 208 yards stopped 30 yards short in a sand trap. Price made bogey and fell into a large group at 69 that included Masters runner-up Ernie Els.
LPGA -- Cristie Kerr was in her element in the swirling winds, shooting a 3-under 69 to share the lead with three others on a breezy opening day in the Takefuji Classic at Las Vegas. Jackie Gallagher-Smith, second-year pro Stacy Prammanasudh, and rookie Nadina Taylor of Australia also were 3 under on a day when gusting winds made the Las Vegas Country Club course difficult.
Grace Park, who took the year's first major title in the Kraft Nabisco, opened with a 72. Aree Song, a 17-year-old rookie who finished second to Park in that tournament, shot 73.
European -- Nicolas Colsaerts of Belgium birdied the last hole for a 7-under 65 and the lead after the first round of the Seville Open at Seville, Spain.
Colsaerts, 21, is a shot ahead of Gregory Havret of France, who led for much of the day with a 66 that included a run of six birdies in seven holes on the back nine. . . .
The city of Augusta, Ga., illegally restricted a small protest last year against all-male membership at the home of the Masters, a federal court ruled yesterday.
The National Council of Women's Organizations tried to picket outside the private Augusta National Golf Club during the tournament, but local officials cited security concerns and forced about 50 protesters to move a half-mile away.
Martha Burk, head of the women's group, sued, saying the decision was based on her group's views. She took special exception to an ordinance, passed a month before the protest, requiring a permit for any assembly of five or more people.
Burk's group didn't send any protesters to this year's tournament, citing the restrictive ordinances. The group might return next spring.