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Even with 64, Tiger two shots off Round 1 lead

NORTON, Mass. — Tiger Woods had his lowest opening round in three years Friday in the Deutsche Bank Championship. It still wasn't enough to be low man in Sean Foley's coaching stable.

Seung-yul Noh, a rising star from South Korea in his first season on the PGA Tour, ran off four straight birdies early in his round and closed with back-to-back birdies at TPC Boston for 9-under 62. That gave him a one-shot lead in the FedEx Cup playoffs event over Chris Kirk, whose 23 putts included an eagle on the 18th.

Woods wasn't too shabby. He stirred up a big gallery with six straight birdies, which featured four putts of at least 12 feet and a flop shot executed so perfectly that the ball cleared a steep bunker and landed in an area of the green no larger than a Hula Hoop. His lone bogey, on the final hole, gave him 7-under 64, putting him in a three-way tie for third with Jeff Overton and Ryan Moore.

The average score was just under 70 on a perfect day for scoring, except for the deceptive wind that swirled through the trees.

Rory McIlroy struggled off the tee, though he judged one of the lies in the rough beautifully on the ninth hole, a 7-iron into tap-in range that led to 65. Phil Mickelson opened with 68 for his first bogey-free round since he won the Pebble Beach Pro-Am in February.

Noh stole the show, even if hardly anyone was paying attention or was not really sure who he was. Noh said some people thought he was tour player Kevin Na and were yelling "Go Kevin."

Noh, 21, won his first Asian Tour title at 17, and he chose to come to the United States this year to ease his travel. He made it through qualifying school in December and Friday turned in his strongest tour round to date. "Everything good (Friday)," he said.

He went to work with Foley in May, mentioning the roster of clients as one reason: Woods, Hunter Mahan, Justin Rose. "He's a good kid," Mahan said after shooting 68. "If Foley says, 'Do this 1,000 times,' he'll go home and do it 1,000 times."

Woods had his lowest score since 64 in the opening round of the 2009 AT&T National at Congressional at Bethesda, Md.

"(Friday) was about the same as I have been playing pretty much all summer, just go out there and playing pretty consistent," he said. "It was just a nice, solid round."

The top 70 players in the FedEx Cup standings after this tournament advance to the BMW Championship next week.

european: Julien Quesne shot 6-under 65 for a one-stroke lead over Danny Willett (67) at 9-under 133 in the fog-shortened second round of the European Masters at Crans-sur-Sierre, Switzerland. Paul Lawrie (66) was two back.

Even with 64, Tiger two shots off Round 1 lead 08/31/12 [Last modified: Friday, August 31, 2012 10:44pm]
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