In danger of having to return to qualifying school, Bob Friend stayed true to his retooled swing and made seven birdies for a tidy round of 65 in the Buick Challenge and a two-stroke lead over Justin Leonard in Pine Mountain, Ga.
In the serene setting of Callaway Gardens--a far cry from 30,000 people who were four-deep down every fairway last week at The Country Club--Leonard and a couple of other Ryder Cup stars showed little sign of a letdown.
Leonard rode the kind of momentum Friend could use right now. No, he didn't make any 45-foot putts and he wasn't mobbed after any of his five birdies. But he managed to keep his mind on the Mountain View course and get into position to win a tournament for the first time this year.
"I wouldn't say I'm surprised, but I'm very pleased," Leonard said. "It was a good round today, and it makes it easier to focus on the rest of the week."
Joining Leonard in the pack at 5-under 67 were Frank Lickliter, Frank Nobilo, Scott Gump, Harrison Frazar, Cameron Beck and Stephen Ames.
Steve Pate, who contributed two points to the U.S. victory in the Ryder Cup, was in another large group at 68, and Davis Love III was at 70. Their teammate Jeff Maggert had a 73.
John Daly, in his first tournament since admitting that he has started drinking again, had a 72.
* LPGA: Kristal Parker-Gregory, winless in five years trotting the globe, returned to her old stomping grounds to shoot an 8-under-par 64 and take a three-stroke lead after the first round of the inaugural New Albany (Ohio) Golf Classic. Parker-Gregory, born in nearby Columbus, birdied the first three holes and didn't let up. She had eight birdies--and missed three other birdie putts of six feet or less--in the lowest competitive round of her pro career.