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Triplett Fires Opening-Round 64, Ties Estes For Gho Lead

By Associated Press

Early starts under overcast skies gave Kirk Triplett and Bob Estes the edge in the first round of the Greater Hartford Open.

Triplett and Estes took advantage of favorable morning weather Thursday and tied the course record with 6-under-par 64s to share the first-round lead.

“The course is playing nice. The greens are firm,” said Triplett, who played in the first group off the first tee and finished with seven birdies. “I bet I haven’t made seven birdies in two months.”

Estes, who played five groups behind Triplett, said the conditions gave shorter hitters a better chance.

“The wind was hardly blowing at all. The course was firmer than I’ve ever played it,” Estes said.

Triplett, who played in the first group off the first tee, and Estes finished one stroke ahead of Dave Stockton Jr., also an early starter.

Triplett, from Pullman, and Estes joined nine previous players who shot 64s at the TPC at River Highlands course since it was renovated in 1991.

U.S. Open champion Corey Pavin, fresh of his first major title, was one of the late starters off the 10th tee. He parred every hole on the back nine, then had two bogeys and two birdies after the turn to finish at 70.

Stockton, who led after the second and third rounds at last year’s GHO before finishing in a four-way tie for third, had a chance to join the leaders Thursday but bogeyed the final hole.

Stockton was pleased with his opening round.

“For some reason, Hartford gets me going. … I get good breaks here,” he said.

At 66 were ohn Cook, Brian Henninger, Grant Waite and Emlyn Aubrey. Greg Norman, runner-up at the U.S. Open and last year’s GHO, Paul Azinger and Chip Beck were among those at 67.

Overcast skies in the morning kept the greens and fairways firm without drying out the course, leading to lower scores early in the day.

Most of those teeing off in the afternoon didn’t fare as well once the wind picked up and temperatures rose, drying the course.

“The course played great. It played beautifully early this morning,” said Norman, who was playing behind Estes’ group.

Triplett, looking for his first victory, started strong with two of his seven birdies coming on the first two holes. He had reached 7-under - the lowest score of the day - after three straight birdies at Nos. 13-15. But he hit the water at No. 17.

“I made some nice putts and had a lot of chances,” said Triplett, playing in his first tournament since the last week of May.

Triplett, looking for his first victory, started strong with two of his seven birdies coming on the first two holes. He had reached 7-under - the lowest score of the day - after three straight birdies at Nos. 13-15. But he hit the water at No. 17.

Junior Nationals

Spokane 17-year-old Andy Hastings shot a 3-under-par 69 and finished fifth at the Nabisco Desert Junior National Tournament in Rancho Mirage, Calif.

Hastings shot the day’s best round and finished at 217, three shots behind winner Joel Kriebel of San Francisco. He rallied after an opening-round 77, firing a 71 Wednesday to tie for the day’s low round at Mission Hills Country Club.

Women’s Publinx

Jenny Lee of Fullerton, Calif., shot 3-under-par 70 to take medalist honors at the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship in Colts Neck, N.J.

Lee’s two-day total of 2-under-par 144 at Hominy Hill Golf Course makes her the No. 1 seed going into today’s first round of match play.

First-round leader Heather Graff of Kennewick struggled with her putting and shot 79. She’s at 152.

Spokane’s Britney Holt rebounded from Wednesday’s 84 with a 77 and is at 161. Her mother, Marcy Holt, shot 87 and is at 173.

Wordcount: 641
Tags: golf

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