LA QUINTA, Calif. — Even after Derek Lamely strung together the longest streak of birdies and eagles on the PGA Tour in nearly four years, he realized it's still very early in the Bob Hope Classic.
Lamely shot 9-under 63 in the first round Wednesday, playing a six-hole stretch in 7 under to take a one-stroke lead over J.J. Henry and Jhonattan Vegas of Venezuela.
Although Lamely finished fiercely at the Palmer Private course, the second-year tour player knows first-round scores mean little in the tour's only five-day event over four fairly generous courses.
"This is going to be definitely not a sprint," he said after finishing his round under picturesque conditions in the Palm Springs area. "The golf courses are perfect. The weather is just so good. You've just got to go out and stay aggressive every hole."
Lamely had five birdies and an eagle in his six-hole run for the best stretch on tour since Brandt Snedeker strung together an 8-under, seven-hole roll in early 2007 at Torrey Pines.
Lamely, 30, was the only American rookie to win last year, although the Puerto Rico Open was an opposite-field event. After making major changes to his grip and swing shortly before winning in Puerto Rico, his biggest goal this winter is to win again in time to qualify for the Masters.
Boo Weekley led a pack of six at 65, which includes Matt McQuillan, who only made it into the field after Donnie Hammond withdrew in the morning.
Henry holed a 132-yard wedge on his first hole at the Nicklaus Private course but didn't get rolling until making six birdies in eight holes around the turn.