Three share lead after first round of Knoxville Open

June 19, 2008
Mark Williams, PGA TOUR Staff

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Arjun Atwal, Jarrod Lyle and Chris Kirk are tied for the lead with 6-under 66s after the opening round of the Knoxville Open presented by Food City at Fox Den Country Club.

Inside the Numbers
18-Hole Leaderboard
Player Score
T1. Arjun Atwal 66 -6
T1. Jarrod Lyle 66 -6
T1. Chris Kirk 66 -6
T4. Chris Smith 67 -5
T4. Jeff Brehaut 67 -5
T4. D.J. Brigman 67 -5
T4. Sebastian Fernandez 67 -5
T4. Kelly Grunewald 67 -5

D.J. Brigman from New Mexico, Indiana's Chris Smith, Texan Kelly Grunewald, Argentinian Sebastian Fernandez and Californian Jeff Brehaut are tied for fourth with 5-under 67s, a shot further back.

"I guess we're back to the normal kind of golf after the circus last week," said Lyle, who tied for 48th at last week's U.S. Open. "Last week showed me I have got the game to play majors, not contend just yet, but make cuts and get my name up there a little bit more.

"I'm still really tired after last week," added Lyle, who has four top-10 finishes this year, including a victory at the Mexico Open. "It's amazing how much it takes out of you. I had never played a U.S. Open before, but your mind has to be so sharp. If you miss a two-footer, you may have a 10-footer coming back."

Atwal enjoyed two weeks off before arriving in Knoxville. "I sat on my couch, played with my kids and spent time with my family," he said. Atwal, the first native of India to win on the European Tour, started on the back nine and closed his round with three consecutive birdies.

Kirk, a 23-year-old Nationwide Tour rookie who was born in Knoxville, Tenn., came to the last hole needing a birdie for the outright lead.

"Eighteen was the only green I missed," said Kirk. "I guess I misjudged the yardage somehow. It's a new lob wedge and it went 10 yards further than I thought." Kirk got up and down to remain co-leader.

Three under at the turn, Kirk hit a 3-iron around some trees on the par-5 10th hole to 15 feet and drained the putt for eagle. "Probably the best shot of the day," said Kirk. "It's not my natural shot. I usually hit a draw so that was big for me."

Kirk added another birdie at the 210-yard 16th hole, where he hit a 4-iron to 10 feet.

"I made that putt and everyone started cheering," said Kirk. "Someone told me they had $1 beers for birdies there. On the 17th tee I saw some guy double-fisting taking advantage of it."

Californian Chris Anderson got off to a flying start opening with four straight birdies. Anderson got to 7 under through 13 holes, but made a triple bogey at the par-4 15th hole when he dumped a wedge in the water then three-putted. Anderson is tied for ninth at 4 under par with eight players.

First-Round News & Notes: Larry Mize withdrew when he gained a start in this week's PGA TOUR event, the Travelers Championship. Mize scored a 3-under 67 there on Thursday. ... Caleb Marsh, a 19-year-old freshman on the Western Carolina University golf team who Monday qualified, shot 1-under-par 71. ... Knoxville is one of four cities to have hosted a Nationwide Tour event every year since the Tour began in 1990. Knoxville is joined by Springfield, Mo.; Wichita, Kan.; and Boise, Idaho. ... Ewan Porter, winner of the Moonah Classic earlier this year, shot 5-over (41) on the front nine but came home with a six-birdie back nine (31) for an even-par 72. ... Australian Kim Felton (2005) is the only international winner of the Knoxville Open.