Romero handles wind at Senior PGA

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Argentina's Eduardo Romero shot a 4-under 68 to take a one-stroke lead over Naomichi &quot;Joe&quot; Ozaki in the Senior PGA Championship.

Updated: May 26, 2007 17:31 IST
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Kiawah Island, South Carolina:

Argentina's Eduardo Romero never minded playing in strong wind in his home country. So the Atlantic gusts on Thursday in the Senior PGA Championship were little problem.

Romero shot a 4-under 68 to take a one-stroke lead over Naomichi "Joe" Ozaki at The Ocean Course, which is hosting its highest profile event since the 1991 Ryder Cup.

Back then, the world's best were outfoxed and rattled by the shifty wind. And while many golfers couldn't handle the gusts of up to 31 mph on Thursday, Romero simply called on his youth in Cordoba when he routinely played windier rounds.

"I feel very comfortable with the wind," he said. "I'm playing a lot of times in this wind."

It showed Thursday. Romero had birdies on all four par 5s, landing his approaches inside 5 feet each time.

He looked as if he'd have a bogey-free round, but he missed a 2-foot par putt on No 18. "Stupid on that," Romero said. "But it is OK because the day was perfect ... very nice."

Asked if he'd like to keep it blowing this way all weekend, Romero didn't hesitate: "Oh yes, of course."

Not everyone shared that sentiment.

The wind clanged hospitality tents and whipped competitors slacks. When John Jacobs spied fellow competitor Jim Ahern after the morning round, he yelled, "Jimmy, you made it."

Dave Stockton, captain of the victorious US Ryder Cup team 16 years back, found the course as maddening now as his players did then. His 81 included a triple-bogey 8 on the second hole.

Irwin, one of Stockton's Cup players, put up a snowman of his own on the 16th after his ball plugged completely in a deep waste bunker alongside the green. Irwin held his hands out, wondering where his shot landed. Irwin, a four-time Senior PGA winner, wound up with a 78.

Former US Open champion Hubert Green was 3 under through four holes, but finished 8 over the rest of the way.

Tournament officials did their part to counter the wind, using front tee locations that sliced about 200 yards (180 meters) off the listed course distance of 7,201 yards (6,585 meters).

Tom Watson said the placements kept competitors from needing full-blown 3-woods to reach the treacherous 17th, shrunk 19 yards to 178.

"Thank you, very much. They used some common sense, those people at the PGA," Watson said.

Ozaki had birdies on the fourth, fifth and ninth holes to move to 3 under. He was briefly in the lead at 4 under after a birdie on the 11th hole. But he three-putted from about 35 feet for a bogey on the 12th.

Chip Beck was alone in third with a 70. Two-time PGA champ Nick Price, playing his first senior major, led a group at 71.

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