Originally created 09/22/00

Leonard, 3 others share Texas lead



SAN ANTONIO -- Justin Leonard is making himself right at home in the Texas Open.

The former University of Texas star shot a 6-under-par 64 on Thursday for a share of the first-round lead with Loren Roberts, Mark Wiebe and Mike Sposa.

"It's a little early to be thinking about it, but it would be great to get a victory here," Leonard said. "But for right now, I'm just happy I'm off to the start that I got (Thursday)."

The 1997 British Open winner finished second in the Texas Open in 1995 and 1998, and secured his tour card in 1994 with a 15th-place finish in the tournament.

"This tournament has certainly helped my career quite a bit," said Leonard, who missed last year's tournament because of the Ryder Cup. "It's nice being close to home. Everyone wants to know what I think about the football team."

Leonard started on the back nine and was 3 under after six holes. After a bogey on the par-3 third hole, when his 8-foot putt for par lipped out, he finished with three straight birdies.

Wiebe, who hasn't won since 1986, closed with four straight birdies on the La Cantera Golf Club course.

"I was just coming along, playing OK, not bad, then all of a sudden made four birdies," Wiebe said "It's the best start I've had for quite some time."

Sposa, playing in his second year on the PGA Tour, shot his best round of the season. His best finish overall was a tie for seventh at this year's Shell Houston Open.

Accurate irons play earned Sposa a share of the lead. Of his six birdie putts, five were from 12 feet or closer.

"I feel like my game has been getting to where I've got a chance to be competitive out here," he said.

Roberts eagled the first hole and birdied No. 16 to create the four-way tie. "The golf course was there for the taking," said Roberts, who won the Greater Milwaukee Open in July.

Blaine McCallister, the 1991 Texas Open champion, was a stroke back along with Craig Barlow, Len Mattiace and Brian Watts.

Duffy Waldorf, the 1999 champion who also beat Leonard here in 1995, shot a 69. Waldorf is trying to become the second player to win the Texas Open three times in the tournament's 70-year history. Arnold Palmer won three consecutive Texas Opens from 1960-62.

Hal Sutton, who won at La Cantera in 1998 but joined Leonard at the Ryder Cup last year, opened with a 70.