Solid Weir kicks off with rush of birdies

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Mike Weir equalled the course record with a 10-under-par 63 to take a three-stroke lead and leave an élite field – Tiger Woods included – in his wake after the first round of the USPGA season-opening Mercedes Championship here.

The Canadian left-hander, who earned a place here with a victory at the season-ending Tour Championship, opened with four straight birdies and reached eight-under par with another birdie at the 10th hole.

Weir was asked if he thought the PGA record low of 59 was on and he said: "Absolutely, absolutely. I am not going to say I didn't. For sure, I did. I was feeling so good. I was eight under through 10."

Weir cooled off but only slightly as he negotiated the normally windy Plantation Course without a bogey. Frank Lickliter fired a seven-under par 66 to take sole possession of second place.

The reigning Open champion David Duval, the defending champion Jim Furyk, Chris DiMarco, Cameron Beckman and Scott Verplank all finished on 67.

Four days before his 26th birthday, the world No 1 Woods took an adventurous route along Kapalua, but straightened himself out with two eagles and finished with a 68. The 2000 champion is tied for eighth with Kenny Perry.

With only a stiff breeze blowing off the coast of Maui, Woods said he expected that someone would shoot about 65. "Weirsy happened to go lower. That's good for him," Woods said. "He's been playing well and he's going to be hard to catch."

MERCEDES CHAMPIONSHIP (Kapalua, Hawaii) Leading first-round scores (US unless stated): 63 M Weir (Can). 66 F Lickliter; 67 C Beckman, C Di Marco, S Verplank, D Duval, J Furyk; 68 K Perry, T Woods; 69 J Edwards, R Goosen (SA), R Damron, D Toms, D Love III; 70 J Leonard, T Pernice Jnr, B Estes; 71 S McCarron, B Faxon, S Stricker; 72 J Cook, S Maruyama (Japan), S Hoch, M Calcavecchia; 73 S Garcia (Sp), J Durant; 74 D Gossett, J Sluman, J Parnevik (Swe) R Allenby (Aus); 75 H Sutton; 77 G Willis.