MEMPHIS, Tenn. Justin Leonard took advantage of his early tee time, shooting an 8-under 62 Thursday in unusually calm conditions at TPC at Southwind to take a two-stroke lead after the opening round of the St. Jude Classic.
In the fourth group of the morning, Leonard shot his best round since a 61 in the final round at Colonial in 2003, where he finished second.
He birdied his first three holes, six of the opening nine, and finished with eight during his bogey-free round.
After Leonard entered the clubhouse early with a five-stroke lead, Kirk Triplett (64) and Davis Love III (65) did their best to catch up during the afternoon. But Triplett parred his final two holes, while Love finished with seven consecutive pars.
Jason Bohn birdied his final hole and tied Love with a 65.
Matt Gogel and Tom Pernice each shot 66s, while Olin Browne, Paul Goydos, 2001 champion Bob Estes and Hank Kuehne are in a large group at 67.
Two-time defending champion David Toms is trying to become the first golfer since Tiger Woods to win the same PGA Tour event three straight times. He teed off at the same time as Leonard at No. 10, but Toms gave back a couple shots on the easier front nine and finished with a 68.
Even Leonard acknowledged his performance was completely unexpected, especially on a TPC at Southwind course toughened with new greens and turned from a par 71 to 70. But this is his third week in a row back on tour after the birth of his second daughter, Avery.
''I feel like I played my way into this round. Certainly shooting 62 is a surprise,'' Leonard said. ''I felt like that coming into this week I was in a pretty decent place. After the last two days working, everything felt pretty good.''
He called playing conditions ''benign'' with clear skies and no wind, not even a breeze. That changed by early afternoon with winds reaching 12 mph.
CORNING, N.Y. Defending champion Annika Sorenstam opened with a 3-under 69, but Sherri Turner and Sophie Gustafson held the first-round lead at 6 under at the Corning Classic.
Turner made an eagle on the par-5 second hole and carded three more birdies before the turn. She finished with her first round in the 60s this year to tie Gustafson, who closed with five birdies over her final seven holes on the way to her best round of the season.
Sorenstam was tied for third with 1986 Corning winner Laurie Rinker, Catherine Cartwright, Jamie Hullett, Mee Lee and Jimin Kang.
Senior PGA Championship
LIGONIER, Pa. Graham Marsh shot a 4-under 68 to take a one-shot lead after the first round of the Senior PGA Championship.
Hale Irwin, R.W. Eaks, Dave Barr and Tom McKnight are tied for second after 69s.
Raymond Floyd, who hasn't won a tournament in five years, is two shots back with Curtis Strange and Texas club pro Perry Arthur.
VIRGINIA WATER, England Ireland's Peter Lawrie, Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland and Portugal's Jose-Filipe Lima each shot a 5-under 67 to share the lead after the first round of the BMW Championship.
Ben Curtis, the 2003 British Open champion, was among a group of nine players one shot behind the leaders. Eight more players finished at 3-under 69.
Peninsula Clarion ©2015. All Rights Reserved.