Nitties, Duke share lead
IRVING: Australian rookie James Nitties birdied the final four holes to match American Ken Duke for the lead after the opening round of the $6.5 million US PGA Byron Nelson Championship on Thursday.
Each man fired a five-under par 65 in the opening round, with Nitties taking a bogey par-4 fourth hole, recovering with birdies at the par-3 fifth and par-5 seventh before his impressive closing run to the top of the leaderboard. Duke birdied the fourth but took a bogey at the next hole then ran off three birdies in a row starting at the ninth and finished with birdies at the par-3 13th and par-5 16th holes for only his second share of a first-round lead.
Nitties, 26, was second in last year's PGA Tour qualifying tournament and after putting his approach at the par-5 15th five feet from the pin, made no putt longer than 12 feet from there to the finish. Sharing third on 66 were Canadian Mike Weir and Americans Brad Adamonis, Scott McCarron and Charles Howell.
"It was good. I was very consistent with my putting today, and that's been kind of holding me back," Duke said. "I haven't been making those 10- and 12- and 15-foot putts. I felt really good today with the putter, and it's good to see a few go in early, and it helps your confidence. You just go from there. "
Duke has had his share of problems this year, making just a half dozen cuts. His best finish is a tie for 26th. "I think sometimes you try too hard when you're out here, especially if you have a few good years," said Duke. "You really try hard, and you think you should do better than what you're doing, and then you press the issues and don't just let it come to you. I guess that's kind of what I've done."