LRTO: Weather doesn't hurt Pampling

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RENO - Rod Pampling likes Montreux Golf & Country Club. It fits his criteria for a what a golf course should be.

"It's a nice course," Pampling said. "It fits my eye well. You've still got to hit a lot of good shots. I enjoy courses like that. So far she's been nice to me."

Pampling, who placed third here in 2003, fired a 5-under 67 on Thursday to take the first round lead at the 11th annual Legends Reno-Tahoe Open.

Pampling has a one shot lead over seven players - Spencer Levin, Jonathan Kaye, two-time defending champion Vaughn Taylor, Reno's Rich Barcelo, Marc Leishman, Steve Pate and Grant Waite.

Another stroke back at 69 are Shaun Micheel, Jeff Quinney, James Nitties, Robert Garrigus, Paul Azinger, Ryan Palmer, 2009 champ Parker McLachlin, Jonathan Byrd and Steve Elkington.

The 126-player field battled winds that gusted up to 38 mph. Light rain fell late in the afternoon. It wasn't a pleasant day by any means, but 66 players managed to shoot par or better.

"I'm very happy," Pampling said. "Obviously it's very difficult out there. Some days - all I can remember playing in 2002 and 2003 - was calm, a little bit of a breeze but nothing major. But to post that number in these conditions, I'm very happy with that."

Pampling posted six birdies and one bogey en route to grabbing the lead.

The Australian-born Pampling birdied Nos. 4 and 6 before bogeying the par-5 ninth.

"On the fourth I hit a good tee shot up the left-hand side," Pampling said. "I hit a 5-wood. It wasn't the best shot, but ended up being a nice shot. I knocked it on to 6 feet and made that.

"On 6, I hit a 3-wood and an 8-iron to about10 feet and made that putt. On No. 9 I hit a good drive down there; just a hang-on shot. I tried to trust the wind with what we were doing and hit it. It went right like the others (before us). So I really didn't learn there."

On the par-5 11th, Pampling hit a 3-wood to 4-feet and made the putt. He followed that with a 10-foot birdie putt on the par-3 12th. He holed out from the bunker for a birdie on No. 14 and rolled in a 15-foot birdie putt on the par-4 15th.

Jonathan Kaye is another player who has played well here. He's part of the seven-person tie for second place at 4-under 68. Kaye is a combined 46-under in 23 rounds at the LRTO. He was runner-up in 2002 and 2005, and would like nothing better than to post a win here and earn a two-year exemption.

"It's kind of like being home in Colorado; a little high altitude golf," said Kaye, who played his college golf at the University of Colorado. "I just think I've got the right formula for clubbing myself up here.

"It's just knowing how far the ball is going to travel in this thinner air. I have a pretty good understanding of playing high altitude golf. For everyone it's different. I remember some days when it gets windy up here, you have to be aware of which way the wind is blowing, because there are a few places out here you can get in a lot of trouble."

Kaye managed to stay out of trouble most of the day, posting six birdies and two bogeys.

He birdied four of the last seven holes on the front (3, 4, 7 and 9). His birdie putts measured 8, 1, 25 and 12 feet, respectively. His only bogey on the front was at the par-4 sixth.

"I hit a tree off the tee and had like 260 (to the green)," Kaye said, "I hit a really good shot pin-high on the right and hit a bad chip. Kind of an unforced bogey there."

Kaye got it to 4-under with a birdie on the par-5 11th.

"That wasn't reachable for us today," he said. "It was blowing kind of right to left. I had like 60 yards in and hit it 8 feet right of the hole and made that."

After a bogey at No. 13, Kaye birdied the par-5 17th with a 15-foot putt from the back edge of the green.

"I played pretty nice considering the way I've been playing," Kaye said. "It was nice to make a few putts and get a birdie before a bogey and not be behind a rock before you even get started. I was pleased with the way I played."

Taylor, who won here in 2004-05, also was pleased with his round which included six birdies and two bogeys. He hopes that last week's Buick Open, where he tied for 8th, gave him some momentum for the rest of the season.

"I played solid today," he said. "I got off to a good start (3-under through five). I made a couple of bogeys in a row. I brought it back nicely and just played really tough out there. I made a few putts as well.

"I've been struggling this year. Last week I played really solid. So minus a few putts on Sunday, I would have had a really good finish. I felt like coming in this week, my game's in pretty good shape and I just need to continue what I'm doing."


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