1. Archive


Times wires

SAN MARTIN, Calif. - After a year spent traveling the world, former Florida State golfer Brooks Koepka suddenly is in a position to play a lot more at home.

In his first regular PGA Tour event, Koepka surged to the top of the leaderboard Friday in the Open with 7-under 64, giving him a one-shot lead over Jason Kokrak (65) at 11-under 131.

Koepka received a sponsor's exemption between stops in Scotland and Shanghai.

The 23-year-old Wellington native had no status at the start of the year after failing to advance beyond the second stage of Q-school last year. Instead of trying to qualify for Tour events, Koepka packed his bags and passport for a 15-country journey that has served him well.

He won three times on the Challenge Tour to earn his European Tour card. He played the Dunhill Links in Scotland two weeks ago and in two weeks heads to the BMW Masters in Shanghai.

If he were to win the Open, he would have a two-year exemption on the PGA Tour.

"There's no pressure. Just enjoying it right now," said Koepka, who had eight birdies and an eagle. "Looking forward to the weekend. I don't see any pressure. Yeah, it would be big. Obviously be nice to win and get status over here. But you play good, everything kind of takes care of itself."

Robert Garrigus (63) and Jim Herman (66) were two shots behind, and former Gator Camilo Villegas (66) was another shot behind at 8 under.

Kevin Tway, son of former PGA champion Bob Tway, had 65 and was in a group of five at 7 under.

Herman can be excused if this doesn't feel like a PGA Tour opener. His offseason was one week. He played well late in the year but still didn't make it to the FedEx Cup playoffs. He played four of five weeks in the Tour Finals to earn his PGA Tour card back.

Champions: Larry Nelson shot his age for a share of the first-round lead in the SAS Championship at Cary, N.C., and Nick Faldo, in his first regular tour event, withdrew after 12 holes with an elbow injury.

Nelson had 6-under 66 to join Russ Cochran and Mark Mouland atop the leaderboard. They had a one-shot lead over a group of five that included defending champion Bernhard Langer.

Faldo, whose only other tour starts had come in the Senior British Open, tweaked a torn capsule in his left elbow when he made a gesture during a putt on No. 6. "I want to play good golf, but I can't play with one arm."

LPGA: Ilhee Lee kept her lead in the LPGA Malaysia with 6-under 65 that put her at 13-under 129, and American Lexi Thompson, 18, shot 63 to sit one stroke behind after two rounds at Kuala Lumpur. Shanshan Feng (65) was at 10 under. Seminole's Brittany Lincicome (72) was 3 under.