Troy Matteson got off to the kind of start every player dreams of Thursday in first-round play of the Children's Miracle Network Classic presented by Wal-Mart.
Matteson eagled the opening hole of the Palm Course at Disney World on his way to a career-best round of 9-under-par 63 in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Matteson also had three birdies on each side and another eagle - this one at the par-5 14th - against one bogey on his way to a one-stroke lead.
"It's been a long time since I made two eagles in the same round, and I think it was two years ago when I played on the Palm," Matteson told reporters. "This time around it was a little weird. I made a bogey on one of the par 5s that I was really set up to make birdie on, but getting those eagles is just so important in a tournament like this, just with how low you have to go."
Matteson's 63 bettered his previous low score on the PGA Tour of 64, which he achieved on several occasions, most recently at the 2008 John Deere Classic. Matteson has been the first-round leader once previously this year, shooting a 7-under 65 at the Buick Invitational to take the first-round lead before Tiger Woods took control the next three rounds.
Near-perfect playing conditions aided Matteson and much of the field as 75 players shot under par.
"The greens' speed was perfect," Matteson said. "It's not so fast that you're having trouble on the greens. It's that perfect speed where it seems like balls aren't coming up short. [It] seems like the balls are just getting to the hole or they're getting there with a little bit of speed, which is ideal."
Matteson, who entered the final Fall Series event at No. 97 on the PGA Tour money list, said putting was the key to his round.
"I hadn't really putted well all year," Matteson said. "I switched to a new Scotty Cameron [putter] this week, and that's made a big difference for me."
Scott Verplank, Kevin Streelman and Jimmy Walker were all tied for second after shooting 8-under 64. Rich Beem, Robert Garrigus, Robert Gamez, Steve Marino and Kirk Triplett are tied for fifth at 7-under 65.
Like Matteson, Verplank said a solid putter was crucial to his round.
"I've been out here 22 years, and this has been by far the worst putting year I've ever had, so I've been working hard on that," Verplank told reporters. "Today, I got the feel, hit a lot of great putts and made the ones I was supposed to, which has not been the case most of this year."
Streelman recorded nine birdies to lead the field after the first round. He had six straight birdies from the eighth hole to the 13th hole on Disney's Magnolia golf course.
Erik Compton, who is playing on a sponsor exemption, shot a 2-under 70 in the first round on the Palm Course. Compton is playing five months after his second heart transplant.
"Really, just a lot of those emotions are always there, but this week I'm here to play a golf tournament," Compton told reporters. "And obviously I'm representing [sponsors], but as soon as I get on the tee, I'm trying to win ... just like everybody else."
November 7, 2008
Davis Love III, who played the final 57 holes of the Children's Miracle Network Classic without a bogey, finished at 25-under 263 in the season-ending event played at the Walt Disney World Golf Resort in Florida. It has been a long road back for Love, who severely sprained his ankle late last year. After tearing ligaments, he needed surgery, and he's spent much of this year rehabilitating the injury.
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