With a nerve-racking and disappointing Masters debut behind him, Vaughn Taylor relaxed and played his best round of the year.
Taylor, who grew up in Augusta, Ga., shot an 8-under 63 to take the lead after the first round of the
A week ago, Taylor couldn't make a move around his hometown without someone he knew ready with a comment, question, or request. He was edgy and lost focus.
''My phone was ringing off the hook," Taylor said. ''You are asked to do a lot of things. In preparing for a tournament, it's tough to be able to do it all . . . You want to talk to everybody and you feel bad because you just can't do it."
The attention proved too much for Taylor to handle. He shot a 75-74 at Augusta National and missed the cut.
Instead of letting the disappointment drag down his slumping season -- Taylor had only broken 70 once in his previous 12 rounds coming in -- the 30-year-old pushed on to Harbour Town Golf Links and found the play he had hoped to have at the Masters.
''I came in this week and it just feels easy," Taylor said.
Taylor stood a stroke ahead of Jim Furyk's 64 and two in front of Tom Pernice Jr., Billy Mayfair, and Duffy Waldorf, tied at 65.
Ernie Els was the only one of golf's ''Big Five" -- Masters champion Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh, and Retief Goosen are the others -- competing at Harbour Town after last week's chase for the green jacket. Els's uneven round of 71 included bogeys on the 17th, 18th, and first holes, and an eagle 3 on the second hole.
Taylor is a two-time PGA Tour winner who qualified for last week's major by finishing No. 36 on the 2005 money list. He has struggled more recently, missing cuts at the Nissan Open, the Honda Classic, and Bay Hill Invitational before his flameout at the Masters.
Taylor, Furyk, and many others took advantage of perfect, windless conditions for the low morning scores. None of the afternoon starters got closer to the lead than Aaron Baddeley's 66.
LPGA -- Lorena Ochoa started the Takefuji Classic in Las Vegas much the same way she ended it last year, shooting an opening 9-under 63 to take a two-shot lead over Shi Hyun Ahn.
Ochoa had a pair of eagles during her round on a sunny, still day at the Las Vegas Country Club, hitting her 5-wood within range on the par-5, 504-yard sixth and the par-5, 495-yard 18th.
European-Asian -- Christian Cevaer of France shot a 6-under 66 for a one-stroke lead over six players after the first round of the China Open in Beijing.