Friday, July 9, 2004

Players get tune-up eyeing British Open

The Associated Press

LUSS, Scotland - Phil Mickelson skipped his practice round at the Scottish Open to get a look at Royal Troon, so his 1-over 72 on Thursday that left him seven shots out of the lead was not surprising.

The Masters champion and U.S. Open runner-up did not seem all that concerned.

Jose Manuel Lara shot a 6-under 65 and was tied for the lead with Phillip Price and 50-year-old Eduardo Romero at Loch Lomond.

Mickelson has one eye on the British Open, the one major where he has never finished in the top 10.

Lara needs a top finish at the Scottish Open just to play in golf's oldest championship next week at Royal Troon. The top player at Loch Lomond not already eligible gets into the British Open.

Lara made four birdies in a five-hole stretch to start the back nine, then polished off a bogey-free round of 65.

Emanuele Canonica is in the same position as Lara, and he responded with a 66.

Former British Open champion Tom Lehman birdied the final hole and was among those at 67. Thomas Bjorn was at 68, while Colin Montgomerie shot 69 playing with defending champion Ernie Els (70) and Lee Westwood (71).

PGA TOUR: Jose Coceres birdied eight of his first 11 holes and shot a 9-under 62 to take a one-stroke lead in the opening round of the John Deere Classic in Silvis, Ill.

Coceres, seeking his first PGA Tour victory since winning twice in 2001, made four birdie putts within 9 feet and rolled in another from 45 feet to make the turn at 6 under. After two more birdies, Coceres made a 36-foot birdie putt at the par-4 4th in his bogey-free round at the TPC at Deere Run.

Vaughn Taylor eagled the par-5 17th to briefly take a share of the lead, but he three-putted the final hole for a bogey and finished with a 63.

CHAMPIONS TOUR: Gil Morgan fell one shot short of his own first-round record at the Senior Players Championship, taking a three-stroke lead with a 7-under 65. Morgan's lead is the largest opening-round lead in the history of the major tournament.

Peter Jacobsen and Sam Torrance withdrew before the first round.

LPGA TOUR: Less than a week after winning the U.S. Women's Open, Meg Mallon had a 7-under 65 to take a two-stroke lead in the first round of the Canadian Women's Open in Niagara Falls, Ontario.

It was a seven-birdie, bogey-free round and seemed an extension of her final-round 6-under 65 when she won her second U.S. Open.

Gloria Park, Johanna Head and Kris Tschetter were at 5-under, while Jennifer Rosales, Dawn Coe-Jones and Angela Stanford were another stroke back.

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