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November 7 2013

1:25 PM

Baird healthy again, shares lead

Stan Badz/PGA TOUR
Baird made seven birdies and no bogeys in the opening round of The McGladrey Classic.

By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. -- Briny Baird has made as many starts in his career on the PGA TOUR as there are days in a year. All that's missing? A win.

Maybe this will finally be the week that changes.

Baird shot 7-under 63 Thursday to share the first-round lead at The McGladrey Classic. More importantly, he's healthy again after undergoing surgery on both shoulders midway through 2012 and missing all of 2013 while he recovered.

"The main surgery was with the AC joint," Baird said. "They took 10 millimeters of bone out of the AC joint. I ended up doing the same surgery on both sides.

"That was the main reason where the pain was coming from. The tears are ‑‑ (the doctor) didn't seem to stress too much over the tears."

Thursday, Baird didn't stress over much either.

The 41-year-old had seven birdies -- including four in a row over his final five holes -- and no bogeys on a sun-splashed day at Sea Island Golf Club.

He missed just two greens in regulation and recorded his lowest score since 2009.

"If there's such thing as an easy 63, today was," Baird said. "I kept the ball in play. I kept it in front of me."

Even when he didn't, Baird didn't stray far. He hit the ball into a hazard on one hole, but was able to play out of it and saved par.

If only the rest of the week could go so well.

Baird has finished second five times in his career, and he has won more money -- nearly $13 million -- than any other active player without a win. A dubious honor, yes, but not one that frustrates Baird.

"Seems like it wears on other people more than it does me," he said. "Do I feel like I've gotten unlucky? No. Do I feel like I could have won a couple of times of the five times I finished second? I know exactly the times that I finished second. I do know how much I've made, and I do know I've won the most money of anybody whose never won a TOURevent.

"Does it wear on me? A little bit, but probably not as much as it seems."

What did bother Baird was his decision to try to come back before he was fully healthy. Even though he couldn't raise his arms over his head, he made two starts on the Web.com Tour in late February and early March.

The pain was too great and Baird went back to rehabbing.

Now he can raise his arms without a problem.

"I do not feel pain in either shoulder," Baird said. "It's a good feeling."

A win would feel even better.

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