A slide that started in July at St. Andrews seemed to have turned around yesterday in Houston.
Greg Norman stopped it in typical Norman fashion, dominating the par-5 holes in a 5-under-par 66 that gave him a share of the first-round lead with Tim Simpson in golf's richest tournament, the Nabisco Championships.
"I became complacent; didn't want to play or practice. You can't do that," Norman said after he had halted the summer-long slump that began when he was crushed in a head-to-head confrontation with Nick Faldo in the third round of the British Open.
"I know I'm solid now. My confidence is on the rise," said Norman. "My putting is much better. I feel I'm back where I was before that Saturday in St. Andrews."
Simpson had seven birdies over the 7,182-yard Cypress Creek course.
The field of the PGA Tour's top 30 money winners is chasing $3.5 million in individual prize money in the last official event of the season. The purse includes $2.5 million (with $450,000 to the winner) for the tournament and another $1 million (with $175,000 to the winner) in a season-long bonus pool.
Nick Price overcame a double-bogey-6 on the extremely difficult 11th hole and was tied for third at 68 with Jodie Mudd.
U.S. Open champion Hale Irwin could do no better than a 75. PGA title holder Wayne Grady shot 72 and defending Nabisco champion Tom Kite was at 73.
Norman, the leading money-winner entering the tournament at $907,977, played the three par-5 holes at four under. He holed a 40-yard sand shot for eagle-3 on the fifth and birdied the other two.
World Amateur Team: Mathias Gronberg shot 2-under-par 70 as Sweden took a seven-stroke lead after the championship's first round at Christchurch, New Zealand.
Gronberg was supported by the teenage duo of Klas Eriksson and Gabriel Hjertstedt. Eriksson, 19, carded a 72 and Hjertstedt, 18, had a 73 as Sweden totaled 215.
New Zealand, South Korea and Argentina tied for second at 222.
The United States, a nine-time winner of the Eisenhower Trophy, is 12 strokes back in seventh place at 227. David Eger led the U.S. team with 74. Phil Mickelson, the U.S. Amateur champion and two-time NCAA titlist, shot 78.