Golf: Frost keeps his cool on the greens

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TWO AMERICANS, Tom Lehman and Hal Sutton, and South Africa's David Frost shot eight-under-par scores of 63 in sweltering conditions to share the first-round lead in the St Jude Classic here on Thursday.

The defending champion, Nick Price of Zimbabwe, was the only non-American in the chasing group, along with Clarence Rose, Jimmy Green and Phil Blackmar, who opened with 64, while the 1997 champion, Greg Norman of Australia, and Paul Azinger were on 66.

Sergio Garcia, the 19-year-old Spanish prodigy, was forced to withdraw and underwent minor surgery for an abscess above his left eye. He is expected to recover in time to play in the Irish Open next month.

For Lehman, his 63 proved to be a disappointment after he was nine-under after 14 holes and aiming to shoot a 59. "I thought, `I'm hitting the ball pretty well. With four holes to play, I can make three birdies'," said Lehman, who has not won on the US PGA Tour since 1996.

Instead, he made par at the next three holes and finished with his only bogey of the round after pulling his drive and leaving his second shot on a downhill lie behind the green.

"I hate to bogey the last hole," Lehman said. "You always think it would be nice to finish with a par or birdie rather than bogey. But I think today was a step in the right direction."

Sutton, who has rejuvenated his career in the last two years, displayed terrific iron play in a bogey-free round.

Frost, frustrated by recent lacklustre play, said he was not sure he would even enter until a few days before the tournament. However, he proceeded to give a master-class in the short game, holing a magnificent 25ft wedge shot on the 10th hole and several birdie putts of 10ft or more, including a 25-footer on the 17th.