Ted Purdy's play in the first round of the Texas Open matched the local weather.

Purdy closed his round with an eagle and a birdie yesterday, tying the course record with a 9-under 61 that gave him a three-shot lead over four players.

Purdy hit all 14 fairways on a windless but extremely hot day at the La Cantera Golf Club course in San Antonio. He reached all but one green in regulation, and needed only 26 putts in his best round as a pro.

"I hit the ball better today than I have maybe ever in my life," said Purdy, who missed the cut in five of his last seven events since finishing second at the B.C. Open in July.

The 61 tied the course mark set in 2002's second round by Garrett Willis. It was the fourth 61 on the tour this year.

At 64 were Jim McGovern, Tim Clark, Dean Wilson and J.J. Henry, while six players had a 65, including two-time champion Justin Leonard.

The round was the hottest faced by PGA players this year, with temperatures reaching 95 degrees and with the humidity, it felt more like 102. Today's forecast is for conditions to be even more sweltering.

* BRYANT CASE: In his interview with police the night after he was accused of sexual assault, NBA star Kobe Bryant insisted the sex was consensual, that he stopped when she said "no" and wondered if she would accept money to recant a claim that could damage his reputation.

A transcript of the interview was published by the Vail Daily, which said it obtained the printout and an audio recording from someone who mailed it anonymously from Denver. A source close to the prosecution told the Associated Press the transcript appeared accurate.

Calls to John Clune, an attorney for the alleged victim, and Bryant's defense attorney Pamela Mackey were not returned. At Mackey's request, District Judge Richard Hart has issued a temporary restraining order prohibiting public release of records or evidence from the case.

The transcript contains profanity and some graphic descriptions from Bryant, who also admitted he had had frequent similar encounters with another woman named "Michelle," and who could testify that he also held her from behind. Bryant, who had been married for two years and had a 5-month-old daughter, said his wife did not know about the other woman.

* BASEBALL: The first strike in the history of Japanese baseball appeared likely after representatives of the country's pro teams ruled out a key player demand.

Japan's players threatened to strike this weekend unless a one-year freeze was placed on the merger of the Pacific League's Kintetsu Buffaloes and Orix BlueWave.

Team officials told the Japanese players' association that a freeze on the merger was impossible.

* HOCKEY: The Washington Capitals announced three moves: Ray Payne has joined team's pro scouting staff; assistant general manager Frank Provenzano is taking an indefinite leave of absence to pursue other interests; and assistant coach Jay Leach will join the Portland Pirates' coaching staff as an assistant until NHL hockey returns.

-- From News Services

and Staff Reports

"I hit the ball better today than I have maybe ever in my life," says Ted Purdy, who tied course record at Texas Open with a 9-under-par 61 in first round.