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New, familiar tie at Houston

Scott Hoch knows too well that a good start doesn't guarantee a good finish.

"In the back of your mind, you're thinking: "When's it going to come unraveled?' " he said after 6-under-par 66 Thursday that tied him with newcomer Franklin Langham for the opening-round lead at the PGA's Houston Open.

Hoch, who has four top-10 finishes this year, had birdies on three of his first six holes on the Tournament Players Course at The Woodlands north of Houston.

"I tried to be aggressive when it warranted it, but you know, other times I did play smart because you can't go for all these pins," he said.

"I was 3 under, I felt good about it. I felt I could get more and that's what I tried to do."

He did, with three straight birdies on the back nine.

Hoch led this tournament in 1995 by five shots going into the final round, but 75 on the last day allowed Payne Stewart to come from seven shots back to beat Hoch in a playoff.

Langham, making a second attempt on the PGA Tour after losing his playing card for 1997, started with three straight birdies, including a 20-footer on the par-3 No. 3. He led at 7 under heading to the tough water-lined par-4 18th. He put his drive into the rough, missed a 10-foot putt for par and settled for his lone bogey.

"I didn't do any one thing great," said Langham, who is 164th on the money list and whose best finish this year was 19th at New Orleans. "I made a lot of good putts. I did everything just well enough to have a good day. That's kind of the way you want it."

Bruce Lietzke, returning to competition after four weeks off, was one shot back at 67 with Mike Hulbert, Jay Delsing and Guy Boros.

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