Estes, Armour take early lead

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Bob Estes got lead with Tommy Armour III on Thursday in the opening round of the Ginn sur Mer Classic.

Updated: October 28, 2007 07:57 IST
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Port St Lucie, Florida:

Bob Estes birdied six straight holes - his longest streak of the season and one shy of his career best - in a 9-under 64 that left him tied for the lead with Tommy Armour III on Thursday in the opening round of the Ginn sur Mer Classic.

"The game is still always a struggle," said Estes, who also shot a 64 last week. "So, even if I'm making six birdies in a row, or like when I was making seven birdies in a row in Memphis a couple years ago, people are like, 'Man, you must have been in the zone.' I'm still pretty relaxed, but I'm still working really hard."

Play was suspended at 6:39 p.m. because of darkness, keeping 22 players from finishing, but Armour decided to complete the 18th. He made a 10-footer for a birdie-birdie-birdie finish, and was nine under after one round for the first time.

Estes had nine birdies, no bogeys, and only missed one green, capping his day with a 40-foot birdie putt on the par-4 ninth hole.

Craig Kanada and Daniel Chopra were three shots off Estes' pace at 6-under 67, while another group including Frank Lickliter II and Steve Flesch - a two-time winner this year - finished another shot back.

Unlike many players in the field who are chasing a top-125 spot on the money list and full playing privileges for 2008 on the U.S. golf tour, Flesch obviously isn't worried about his card.

He's here to secure a trip to the U.S. Masters, a perk that comes to those finishing in the top 30 in earnings on the American tour.

"It's amazing how a couple weeks can change your whole year out here," said Flesch, who has won two of his previous seven starts.

Estes started on the back nine and made the turn at 2 under, after birdies on both of the par 5s and nothing but pars on the remainder of his card.

But his second nine was one to savor.

He made birdies at Nos. 1-6, and had a chance for seven straight when his approach stopped about 20 feet from the cup at the par-5 seventh.

Estes settled for par there, then put an emphatic end to the round with his long birdie at the ninth.

"It's only Thursday," Estes said. "That's the deal."

Light rain started 10 minutes before play began, and the gray skies probably matched John Daly's mood.

With about 50 fans following him at 7:30 a.m., the ever-popular Daly was first off the tee.

First to make double bogey, too, after his drive on the par-4 opening hole found a bunker and he three-putted from 60 feet.

He finished at 2-over 75, and will need to rally if he's to make a cut for only the ninth time in 24 starts.

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