Craig Perks had a bogey-free 6-under-par 64, including two chip-in birdies, and took the first-round lead yesterday at the Colonial in Fort Worth. He led by a stroke over Jesper Parnevik, another golfer looking for a big comeback.
"I didn't see it coming," Perks said. "A round like this, it certainly gives me confidence. It shows me I can still play."
Steve Flesch, who had birdies on four of his first five holes, and Stewart Cink were among five golfers at 66. Defending champion Kenny Perry shot 67, his Colonial-record eighth straight round under par.
Missing are Vijay Singh, Tiger Woods and Annika Sorenstam, who at last year's Colonial became the first woman in 58 years to play on the PGA Tour.
Phil Mickelson, the Colonial's highest-ranked player (No. 2 on the money list) and 2000 champion, opened with a 71.
Golf has been a struggle for Perks since his only PGA win at the 2002 Players Championship in what many consider the tour's fifth major.
In 2003, Perks had no top-10 finishes and made just 12 of 28 cuts. Before playing last weekend in the Byron Nelson Championship, he had missed 10 of 12 cuts this year, including six in a row while shooting 75 of worse in eight of those rounds.
The low point came at the Masters, where he missed the cut by one stroke after a double bogey his last hole.
"I hit some really, really good iron shots," Perks said of his round yesterday that required just 24 putts. "And my short game was as good as it always has been."
* LPGA: Silvia Cavalleri, Nadina Taylor and Young-A Yang, each searching for her first LPGA Tour win, carded 5-under 66s to share the lead at the Sybase Classic in New Rochelle, N.Y.
The three were one shot in front of Becky Morgan, Sherri Steinhauer and Soo Yun Kang. Amy Hung had a 68. Candy Hannemann, Michele Redman, Chiharu Yamaguchi, Rachel Teske and Grace Park carded 69s.
This tournament had been played in the late summer until being moved up in the schedule this year. A consistent breeze made temperatures in the high 60s even more comfortable, a far cry from the summer heat that usually plagues the tournament.
Meantime, the five major women's professional golf tours plan to develop a unified world ranking system in time for the 2005 seasons. The LPGA and the women's professional tours in Europe, Japan, South Korea and Australia made the announcement at the inaugural World Congress of Women's Golf in New York.
Details of the ranking system are not complete, but the format is expected to be similar to the men's in which a player's performance is evaluated over two years.