Atwal, DiMarco share first-round lead

Associated Press

Avondale, April 29:

Chris DiMarco got off to a fast start in his first event since losing the Masters in a playoff, shooting a season-best 7-under 65 for a share of the first-round lead in the Zurich Classic.

India’s Arjun Atwal also opened with a 65, birdieing six of his final nine holes on the TPC of Louisiana, the Pete Dye-designed course in its first year as the tournament site after 16 years at English Turn. DiMarco, coming off the emotional first-hole loss to Tiger Woods three weeks ago at Augusta National, had a bogey-free round in swirling wind gusts. DiMarco, who started the round on No 10, had three birdies on the first nine holes. He got to 4 under with a birdie on No 1, made five straight pars, and holed a 20-foot eagle putt on the par-5 seventh. He closed the round with a birdie on No 9.

Atwal, who lost a playoff last month in the BellSouth Classic, said he concentrated on his putting. “I just tried to make pars because it was so windy,” Atwal said. “Then I got things going on the front nine,” Atwal said. Defending champion Vijay Singh was in a group at 67.

Opening on the back nine, the Fijian Singh had two bogeys and three birdies to make the turn at 1 under. He bogeyed Hole No 1 then had birdies on Nos 2, 6 and 7. Singh had an eagle on the par-4 eighth, with a 339-yard drive and a 30-yard chip to go to 6 under. He three-putted No 9, however, for a final bogey. After three weeks away from the tour, DiMarco showed no sign of being rusty. JJ Henry, Tom Pernice Jr. and Tim Clark also shot 67s. With the move to the year-old TPC of Louisiana, players such as Henry, who did not play in the pro-am tournament, had just one round of practice before the start of play on Thursday.