Pettersson claws his way back with eagle

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The Independent Online

An eagle two on the 296-yard 15th helped Ryder Cup hopeful Carl Pettersson to a four under par 66 that left him only one off the lead after the first round at the Buick Championship here.

Things did not begin too well for the Swede, winner of the Memorial Tournament at the start of last month, when he followed five opening pars with a six on the long sixth. But Pettersson, eligible for September's match after rejoining the European tour this season and ninth on the world points list from which the first five members of Ian Woosnam's side will come, birdied three of the next six.

Heath Slocum, Harrison Frazar, Scott Verplank and Australian Peter Lonard each hit five-under-par 65s to share the lead.

Slocum made five birdies in a bogey-free round at the River Highlands course. He is seeking his first title since last year's Southern Farm Bureau Classic.

Frazar made a bogey on the 15th and six birdies in his first tour start since withdrawing after the first round of last month's St Jude Classic.

Verplank twice has come close to his first title since the 2001 Bell Canadian Open, finishing tied for second at the Bob Hope Classic and FBR Open in back-to-back events earlier this year.

Although he made a bogey on the 13th, Lonard followed with four consecutive birdies and finished with six in his lowest round on the PGA Tour this year.

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