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The Tour Report

June 16 2011

6:36 PM

Rocha has a great day

By Melanie Hauser, PGATOUR.COM BETHESDA, Md. -- His first-ever tee shot in a major? A 4-iron over water. All the way. Yes, Alex Rocha, PGA TOUR rookie, started his major career Thursday at the 10th hole. "I've never, ever, ever been so nervous in my life,'' Rocha said. "Ever. The only thing I could feel was my heartbeat go off my chest but nothing else, no other body parts. And something clicked after that.  I was walking down the hole thinking you just got done with the worst part, the most difficult part was that first tee shot, and for whatever reason that really calmed me down.'' Two holes later, he picked up his first major birdie. Fifteen holes later, he was still on the leader board, completing round one at Congressional with a 2-under-par 69.  Not bad at all for the Brazilian, who played college golf at Mississippi State, and struggled this year -- missing five cuts. His best finishes were shares of 50th place the at Mayakoba Golf Classic and Puerto Rico Open. But Congressional suited him Thursday. Four birdies, two bogeys. And he was two-over with those two bogeys before he started found his putting stroke and birdied the fifth and eighth coming in. "From the second hole on ‑‑ the 11th hole, my second hole, onwards, I was in perfect control of my emotions out there, and therefore my ball flight, which was great,'' he said. "I haven't been doing that this year.  So it's a nice positive for me. ". . . . I kept on trucking.  And I'm not really sure how it is that I just did that.  But here I am." He's not going to tell you he's in great shape for the rest of the week because he knows how brutal this course can be. ''For people to have the know‑how or the pedigree to be sitting here, I'm talking about the (Rory) McIlroys and (Phil) Mickelsons of the world and (Luke) Donalds that can sit here and say yes, I shot 2‑under par, I'm in great position, I don't have to make up any ground,'' Rocha said. "I am in great position, I don't have to make up any ground, but what I did well today is I didn't let that get in my way.  I was very aware of the golf course and each shot.  I don't think I've ever played a round that I was so into each and every shot that I hit."