Don’t mess with Leonard in Texas

Justin Leonard hits his approach into the 11th green during the first round of the Valero Texas Open.

Justin Leonard hits his approach into the 11th green during the first round of the Valero Texas Open.

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Zurich Classic of New Orleans

Avondale, LA - TPC Louisiana

9:37:32 AM ET. 04/23/2014




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SAN ANTONIO – Paul Goydos made eight birdies before his final drive sailed into a fairway bunker, blemishing what was almost an unmatched start at the Texas Open.

“I mean, you can’t have everything good happen for every moment of your life,” Goydos said.

Goydos, who publicly opened up this month about the death of his ex-wife in January and raising his two teenage daughters, shot a 7-under 63 on Thursday at La Cantera Golf Club for a share of the first-round lead with Justin Leonard. It’s the first time since 1999 that Goydos has opened a tournament with at least a share of the lead.

Teeing off early in the morning, the 44-year-old Goydos had the lead for most of the day until Leonard birdied three of his last four holes in the afternoon. Leonard is pursuing a record fourth Texas Open championship, and hasn’t been tied for first this early at La Cantera since his first win in 2000.

“When you tee off and you’re seven shots back, I felt the need that I’ve got to make birdies because I don’t want to have this huge deficit after one round,” Leonard said. “I was able to get off to a great start. From then, being able to stay patient and give myself opportunities, I did a good of that today.”

Goydos shot a 29 on the front nine, a stroke shy of a personal tour best through nine holes. Leonard’s 63 was his best round in 11 tournaments here.

Jeff Maggert, Marc Leishman and Ted Purdy opened with 64s, and Englishmen Brian Davis and Greg Owen shot 65s.

Major winners David Duval, Lee Janzen and Corey Pavin were three strokes back. Duval’s 66 was his best round since January 2007.

Zach Johnson, trying to defend his tournament championship from October, shot a 68 in the first Texas Open to tee off in the spring since 1969.

Goydos surged ahead with six birdies before the turn, including a 60-yard pitch on No. 8 that set up a 3-foot putt. The last time Goydos held at least a share of a first-round lead was the U.S. Open a decade ago.

Goydos stepped away from the tour earlier this year after his ex-wife, Wendy, died unexpectedly. She had battled a drug addiction stemming from a bout with migraines.

He had kept private about Wendy and the girls, then gave his first interview for the May edition of Golf Digest. Others interviews have followed, and Goydos said he made “a conscious decision” to tell the story.

“We’re all going to go through difficult times,” Goydos said. “I’ve been on tour for 17 years. I’m sure there’s plenty of other people who’ve been on tour for 17 years who have had difficult times.”

Anthony Kim opened with a 69 after a dismal start and finish to his round. The 23-year-old Texan bogeyed two of his first three holes, them muffed his second shot from the rough on No. 18 before two-putting for a double bogey.

The Texas Open is the PGA Tour’s third-oldest tournament, but had long been relegated to the tour’s far less attractive fall calendar. The switch to May now makes it the first leg of a new Texas Swing, with stops at the Byron Nelson Championship and Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial still ahead.

The tournament is the final one at La Cantera before moving to a new, Greg Norman-designed TPC course nearby in San Antonio next year.

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