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Battle for top starts fast

Luke Donald, acknowledging the crowd after making birdie on 17, is tied with six others for the lead at Disney.

Associated Press

Luke Donald, acknowledging the crowd after making birdie on 17, is tied with six others for the lead at Disney.

LAKE BUENA VISTA — Luke Donald figured he might have to win this weekend to have his best shot at capturing the PGA Tour money title. He took a good step Thursday in the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Classic with 6-under 66 for a seven-way share of the lead.

Donald is playing the opening two rounds with Webb Simpson, whose runnerup finish Sunday gave him a $363,029 lead on the money list. Simpson also played bogey-free on Walt Disney World's easier Palm course for 68.

Of the leaders, Derek Lamely was the only one to shoot 66 on the more difficult Magnolia course.

"Would have loved to have made a couple more at the end," Donald said of his six birdies. "I didn't hit the ball great the last few holes. I think you want to capitalize on the slightly easier course, and six birdies and no bogeys was a great start. It wasn't that easy out there. The wind was strong enough to make club selection a little tricky."

The wind began blowing in the morning as a front went through, creating surprisingly cool conditions.

Simpson made a late surge and also was satisfied with his start. "It's a good start," Simpson said. "That's all you can ask for on Day 1. Looking forward to trying to improve (today), just keep trying to climb the leaderboard."

It's a crowded leaderboard, typical of this season-ending tournament.

With so much attention at the top, it's more critical at the bottom as players try to finish in the top 125 on the money list to keep full status on the tour. James Driscoll is at No. 125, and he was among those who opened with 66 to tie for the lead.

LPGA: Yani Tseng began her home event with 4-under 68 to join Ai Miyazato with a one-shot lead after the first round of the Taiwan Championship in Yang Mei. Tseng overcame early nerves to finish strong and match Miyazato, who had four birdies over the front nine. Tampa resident Kristy McPherson shot 1-under 71 and Tampa's Cindy LaCrosse 6-over 78. Seminole's Brittany Lincicome, the world's eighth-ranked player and the only American to win twice on the tour this year, is not competing in this event.

HEADING SOUTH: The PGA Tour is launching a developmental tour to try to expand its presence in South America as golf prepares to become an Olympic sport again in 2016 in Brazil. The PGA Tour Latinoamerica will start next year, with 11 tournaments in seven countries, most in South America but including Mexico and Puerto Rico.

Battle for top starts fast 10/20/11 [Last modified: Thursday, October 20, 2011 9:58pm]
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