A bogey and a double-bogey in his last three stopped the unheralded Briton John Morgan from entering the clubhouse as joint leader of the BellSouth Classic here.
The 25-year-old from Portishead confounded the form book by charging to the top of the leaderboard alongside Chris DiMarco after 14 holes. Morgan fired an eagle and three birdies in covering his opening nine holes in 31, but, having started at the 10th, he had a five at his 16th hole (the seventh) and a six at his last (the ninth) to slip off the pace with a three-under-par 69.
DiMarco held his form to be the leader in the clubhouse with a 67, putting him one ahead of a group including the defending champion, Retief Goosen.
Morgan, the son of a Bristol docker, turned professional two years ago this month and in earning his 2003 European Tour Card became the first rookie to earn cards on both the PGA and European Tours in the same season.
Starting his round on the back nine, where scoring appeared easier, was an advantage for Morgan. He matched par at the 608-yard 10th and went one better on the 11th, considered the most treacherous par three on the course as the drive is entirely over water. A birdie there put him two shots off the lead.
Morgan's dream start rolled on with an eagle two on the 13th, par golf over the next four holes and a birdie at the 18th which saw him complete the first nine in just 31.
Ireland's Padraig Harrington, who had finished first and second in his last two strokeplay events on the American tour, made a good start but dropped shots on either side of the turn and his round taled off in a 74. Scotland's Paul Lawrie, the 1999 Open champion, went to the turn in 35, moved to two under with a birdie at the 10th only to bogey the next hole. He finished on level par 72.
The Hemel Hempstead-born Luke Donald had four birdies in his first nine holes, but his final five holes were nothing if not entertaining as a double-bogey at his 14th was followed by birdie, bogey, birdie, bogey. He finished with a 72.
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