Mathias Gronberg can't think of a better setting than Castle Pines Golf Course to chase his first PGA Tour triumph.
The majestic mountain layout in Castle Rock, Colo., and the high elevation remind him of the Alpine Course at Crans-sur-Sierre in Switzerland, where he registered his first win as a pro at the 1995 Canon European Masters.
``It's the same format: High up in the mountains, you hit the ball a long way," Gronberg said yesterday after taking the first-round lead at the International, the PGA Tour's most novel event.
Playing at 6,300 feet and using the modified Stableford scoring system, two factors that reward big hitters and aggressiveness, Gronberg scored 13 points to lead Stuart Appleby, Stewart Cink, and 2001 champion Tom Pernice Jr. by 2 and Danny Ellis, Jeff Brehaut, and Patrick Sheehan by 3.
``Obviously, I hit the ball long here, which is kind of a bonus. And then I like the way they set up the golf course. Then, I just like being up in high altitude it seems like," said Gronberg, who had eight birdies and one double bogey.
Gronberg, 36, who grew up in Stockholm, Sweden, and lives in Monaco, finished ninth at Castle Pines in 2004. His best finish on the PGA Tour is fourth at the Shell Houston Open this year.
David Howell was at 12 and threatening Gronberg's lead until he teed off into the water and double bogeyed his final hole, costing him 3 points.
The modified Stableford at the International awards 2 points for a birdie, 5 for an eagle, and 8 for a double eagle. One point is subtracted for a bogey, 3 points for a double bogey or worse.
LPGA -- Angela Stanford thought about playing a conservative shot from a tricky downhill lie in the 14th fairway. Instead, she talked herself into an aggressive play and ended up hitting the best shot of the best round of her life.
Stanford deftly faded her 7-iron approach around a large greenside tree to set up a tap-in birdie, the last of her eight birdies in a bogey-free 64 that matched the lowest round in the history of the Canadian Women's Open.
The 64 in ideal conditions on the tree-lined London Hunt and Country Club course in London, Ontario, tied the record set by JoAnne Carner in 1978 at par-73 St. George's in Toronto when the national championship was called the Peter Jackson Classic.
Cristie Kerr matched Vicki Goetze-Ackerman and Jee Young Lee at 67.
Ladies European Tour -- Annika Sorenstam shot a bogey-free 7-under-par 66 at the TPC of Scandinavia in Stockholm, breaking the record on her home course to take the first-round lead.
Sorenstam, who grew up near the Bro-Balsta course, had five birdies and one eagle.
Sherri Steinhauer, who won the Women's British Open last week, was two shots back.
European -- Christian Cevear and Anders Hansen shared the first-round lead at the Dutch Open in Zaandvoort, Netherlands, both shooting 6-under 65s despite wind and rain.
NEPGA SENIORS -- Paul Parajeckas ran away from the field in the New England PGA Senior Championship at Woodstock (Vt.) Inn Country Club, adding a 4-under 66 to his opening 67 to claim the title at 7 under, five strokes clear of Scott Spence.