Sutherland gorging on Sugarloaf success

Last updated at 10:08 18 May 2007

Kevin Sutherland fired a seven-under-par 65 to head the field after the opening round of the AT&T Classic at TPC Sugarloaf in Duluth, Georgia.

The 42-year-old recorded eight birdies and a solitary bogey to lead Stephen Marino, Tommy Armour III, Ryuji Imada, Bob May and Craig Kanada by two shots after the quintet all carded rounds of 67.

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Kevin Sutherland

Four players were a stroke further back at four under par.

Sacramento native Sutherland managed to birdie all four of the par fives at the 7,343-yard, par-72 course, and the only blemish on his scorecard came with a dropped shot at the par-four fifth.

Sutherland has finished in the top 10 just once in 12 events this season and recorded his lone PGA Tour win five years ago in the Accenture Match Play Championship.

And he was understandably delighted with his first-round performance at the £2.7million event.

"I hit the ball pretty well," Sutherland said.

"Actually, I hit the ball very well. I was very pleased with the way I hit it. You're not going to shoot 65 very often, so it was a lot of fun."

The highlight of Sutherland's round was chipping in from a bunker for a birdie at the par-three 16th hole.

Imada, meanwhile, initially started poorly and fell to two over par after a double-bogey six on the fifth.

However, the 29-year-old birdied six of the next eight holes to surge to four under and after a bogey on the 16th, the Japanese player bounced back with an eagle on the par-five 18th.

Marino's best tour finish came in February when he finished eighth at the Mayakoba Golf Classic and the 27-year-old managed seven birdies in his first round to go with bogeys at the fifth and the 12th.

Armour III, who has not a won a PGA Tour event since capturing the Valero Texas Open in 2003, carded four of his six birdies on the back nine to move the 47-year-old into contention.

Playing in just his third event of the year, May birdied five holes and did not drop a shot, while Kanada, who has finished no better than 10th in 13 PGA Tour events this year, did the same.

Zach Johnson, probably the most high-profile player in this week's field, was six shots off the pace after an opening one-under-par round of 71.

The current Masters champion claimed his first PGA Tour title in 2004 at this event and finished second last year, albeit a staggering 13 shots behind Phil Mickelson.

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