Boo Weekley Early start helps Boo Weekley to first-round lead in Stanford St. Jude Championship

After struggling since his last trip to the winner's circle, Boo Weekley got his game back on track Thursday in first-round play of the Stanford St. Jude Championship.

In his fourth start since winning the Verizon Heritage in April, Weekley carded an opening-round of 5-under-par 65 at TPC Southwind, marking his first round in the 60s since his last victory. He enters Friday's second round with a one-shot lead over Tommy Armour III (66) and a two-shot advantage over Vijay Singh (67).

"I drove the ball well today for a change," Weekley told reporters. "My irons were superb. I hit them real good and then my putting, putting was excellent today."

In that respect, Weekley said getting an early start on preparing for the St. Jude Championship certainly had its benefits. After missing the cut at last week's Memorial, Weekley traveled to Memphis, Tenn., and got the jump on most of the field.

"I went around there and hit a lot of putts Saturday and Sunday," Weekley said. "I played, I think, nine holes Saturday and 18 on Sunday, just riding around out here.

"Being able to go and practice by yourself on a golf cart makes it a lot easier. You're not as tired, and you can work a little bit more out there."

Weekley's putting touch showed up early as he drained a 20-footer for birdie at No. 1 and then sank a 12-foot birdie putt. He added an 11-foot birdie putt on No. 18, giving him the outright lead in the tournament as he finished with four birdies on the back after making two birdies and a bogey on the front nine.

With his best finish since winning the Verizon Heritage being a tie for 21st place in The Players Championship, Weekley said he felt a strong desire to get to work on his game after missing the cut at Muirfield Village, shooting 9 over.

This marks the first time in Weekley's career that he has been a leader/co-leader through 18 holes of a PGA Tour event. He was tied for 23rd after the first round of his victory in the 2008 Verizon Heritage and tied for fifth after the first round of his victory in the 2007 Verizon Heritage.

The first-round leader has won the Stanford St. Jude Championship 12 times in the tournament's 50-year history. However, this year has proven difficult for first-round leaders to hang on for the next 54 holes as only five have gone on to win in 23 stroke-play events in 2008.

Armour is making his 14th career start this week and opened with a 66. Like Weekley, Armour was able to overcome gusty wind conditions and still put up a good score.

"The rough isn't real deep, so if you get blown off in the rough, it's not penal like next week would be [in the U.S. Open]," Armour told reporters. "You've got to hit the shots because the greens are firm and the greens are perfect.

"The wind is blowing, but it's blowing a lot this year, so it's not like this is new for us."

Singh opened with a 67 and was one of only three players to record an eagle. The other two came from Mark Calcavecchia [hole No. 3] and Bob Sowards [hole No. 16].

Davis Love III, making only his second start at the Stanford St. Jude Championship since 1999, opened with a 2-under 68 and is one of seven players tied for fourth. Also in that group are Sergio Garcia, Justin Leonard and Stuart Appleby.

Defending champion Woody Austin was 2 under through 13 holes before playing the last five holes in three over for a round of 71. David Toms (2003-04) and Lee Trevino (1971-72) are the only players to successfully defend their titles here.

Weekley would like to prevent a repeat, while at the same time building momentum for next week's U.S. Open at Torrey Pines. After that, he said he plans to take some time off to be with his family.

"This gives me a lot of confidence, but after this one and the next tournament, the U.S. Open, I'm done for a month," Weekley said. "I'm going to take a month off. I got a newborn going to be here, and I want to take a little time and see if I can help out around the house."

June 6, 2008

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