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Low-scoring start to PGA season

KAPALUA, Hawaii — Jonathan Byrd and Carl Pettersson didn't miss a beat in the PGA Tour opener Thursday, both enjoying the surprisingly calm conditions in the Tournament of Champions to share the lead at 7-under 66.

Ben Crane was a stroke behind in the event for last year's winners. Jim Furyk was in a group of three at 68.

The Plantation Course was missing its notorious wind. The conditions were so serene that a dozen of the 33 players shot in the 60s, and only two players failed to break par. One was Rocco Mediate, who made the turn in 41 and shot 79. The other was Justin Rose at 75.

"It's quite an adjustment going out there with no wind," Byrd said.

It was Byrd's first tournament since he qualified by winning in Las Vegas with the best finish of the year, a hole-in-one in a three-man playoff. After making five birdies on the front nine, Byrd holed out another shot.

If the only the rest of the day could have gone as well.

"From there on, got a little shaky," Byrd said. "I didn't play great for about a three- or four-hole stretch."

Pettersson qualified by winning the Canadian Open, but he wasn't satisfied with the way his year ended. Instead of shutting it down when he returned from the HSBC Champions in China, Pettersson spent the past two months playing just about every day, whether that meant practicing for one hour or five hours, playing with buddies in North Carolina or taking golf trips to Florida.

"Probably worked harder on my game this offseason than I've done any other offseason," he said.

Two-time defending champion Geoff Ogilvy withdrew, three days after gouging his right index finger on a coral reef at the beach and getting stitches. Ogilvy said it was doubtful he would play next week in Honolulu and hoped to return at the Farmers Insurance Open in San Diego at the end of the month.

Woods, Golf Digest end relationship: Tiger Woods ended his 13-year relationship with golf's biggest magazine when the sides couldn't agree on how many hours he should devote to the job. Golf Digest, with a circulation of 1.65 million, announced the mutual end of a relationship that began at the 1997 Masters. Woods provided articles that were mainly instructional tips. The endorsement had been Woods' second-longest, behind Nike. It was believed to be among the smallest financially for Woods, worth no more than $2 million a year.

LPGA releases schedule: The tour will play 13 times in the United States as part of a 25-tournament schedule, including in Arizona where players will forgo paychecks to recognize the LPGA founders. Prize money will go to the LPGA Foundation that runs the LPGA-USGA Girls Golf program. The season begins in February with back-to-back events in Asia. The first major, the Kraft Nabisco Championship, is March 31-April 3.

Low-scoring start to PGA season 01/06/11 [Last modified: Thursday, January 6, 2011 11:39pm]
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