Originally created 06/08/01

Estes ties course record with 10-under 61 for four-stroke lead



MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Bob Estes tied the course record at a sodden TPC at Southwind with a 10-under-par 61 Thursday to take a four-stroke lead in the opening round of the St. Jude Classic.

Estes had 10 birdies in matching the record set by Jay Delsing in the final round in 1993. The 61 also matched the best score of Estes' career, which came in 1991 at the Chattanooga Classic.

Tom Byrum was the only other person with an afternoon tee time to get on the leaderboard besides Estes, and he was 7 under through 13 holes as players tried to wrap up the first round before nightfall.

John Riegger, who spent the past two years on the Buy.com Tour, matched his best round ever on the PGA Tour with a 65. J.P. Hayes, Chris DiMarco, Paul Goydos, Sean Murphy and Cliff Kresge all had 66s.

The rain that washed out Wednesday's pro-am forced a two-hour delay before the first group teed off on Thursday. The 7,030-yard course was saturated, forcing the tour to use lift, clean and place rules. That helped since golfers didn't get any bounce off the soggy zoysia fairways, which hadn't drained much at all through the day.

"It's playing as long as it possibly can," Hayes said.

Estes doesn't have the greatest history here in Memphis. In 12 events, he has finished in the top 10 only twice, the last in 1998 when he was fourth after sharing the lead following 54 holes.

This year, he has cracked the top 15 only once in 13 events, missing the cut five times. But he had been consistent in his past two events, finishing tied for 26th at Colonial and 22nd at Kemper.

He couldn't have asked for a better start Thursday as he birdied four of the first five holes and six of the first eight. He made the turn with a share of the lead at 6 under and looked like he might stay there as he parred two straight holes.

Then he got going again with a birdie on the par-4 12th and added birdies on Nos. 15, 16 and 17.

It was a terrible day for Phil Mickelson on a course where he was only able to play the front nine Wednesday.

The world's No. 2-ranked player was at 3 under and tied for the early lead at the turn when he ran into trouble. He hit into the water on the par-3 11th and then put a wedge into a bunker for a triple-bogey.

Mickelson also had trouble off the tee on the par-4 18th, putting his tee shot into the lake down the left side of the fairway. He took a drop and then missed a long putt for par, finishing with a 70.

Divots:

A total of 33 foreign players teed off Thursday, the largest such continent in a PGA event this year. The list includes Jesper Parnevik, Jose Maria Olazabal and Bernhard Langer. ... Fred Wadsworth, Keith Clearwater, David Frost and Dudley Hart did not start. That allowed Robert Gamez and Ben Bates into the field.