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Toms, UNLV product share lead with two others in Mexico

PLAYA DEL CARMEN, Mexico — David Toms got off to a good start in a bid for his first PGA Tour victory in more than five years, shooting a 5-under-par 66 on Thursday for a share of the first-round lead in the Mayakoba Golf Classic.

On a partly cloudy day with temperatures in the lows 80s, the wind gusted to 25 mph on the Greg Norman-designed El Camaleon course on the Caribbean coast.

“Overall just a good day,” said Toms, 44. “I kept the ball in play, picked my spots when to be aggressive.”

Former UNLV golfer Andres Gonzales joined Toms, Mark Hensby and Kyle Stanley with opening 66s.

Toms, winless since the Sony Open in Hawaii in January 2006, had five birdies and a bogey on the front nine to make the turn at 4 under. The 12-time PGA Tour champion dropped a stroke on No. 11, then closed with birdies on Nos. 16 and 18.

“You can take a run at your putts, especially in the 10- or 15-foot range,” Toms said. “You don’t have to worry about knocking them too far by. I think guys were probably pretty aggressive on the greens.”

Defending champion Cameron Beckman was one stroke back with Kent Jones, Briny Baird, Chris Tidland, Alexandre Rocha and Sunghoon Kang.

Aaron Baddeley, the Northern Trust Open winner last week at Riviera, and Bob Hope Classic champion Jhonattan Vegas shot 74s. John Daly had a 73.

“It was tough out there,” Beckman said. “The winds were blowing harder than they were yesterday. A lot of the shots, the crosswind shots are tricky out there, especially into the wind. We were hitting a lot of club, hitting 5-irons 170 yards.”

Beckman has broken 70 in nine of his past 10 rounds in the event.

Gonzales, a PGA Tour rookie who missed the cuts in his first two starts of the season, played the back nine in 5-under 30. He birdied No. 11, eagled the par-5 13th and birdied the final two holes.

“The wind was very consistent. It was consistently strong. It never really let down,” Gonzales said. “You had to concentrate a lot out there. You had to pay attention to every shot out there, including putts.”

■ LPGA — At Singapore, Chie Arimura of Japan overcame strong winds to shoot a 4-under 68 and take a one stroke lead after the first round of the HSBC Women’s Champions.

Na Yeon Choi of Korea shot a 69, and world No. 1 Yani Tseng of Taiwan finished in a group of four players with 70 at the Tanah Merah Country Club.

The 23-year-old Arimura, ranked 19th, was steady throughout the round, shooting a 34 on the front and back with a total of five birdies.

“It has been a great day for me,” Arimura said. “I did well, especially my putting, so I have no regrets.”

Winds kicked up in the afternoon, and the swirling gusts hurt scores.

“I don’t think we’ve ever played this course with this much wind,” said Australia’s Karrie Webb, who shot 70. “Some of the long par-4 holes played really long today.”

American Natalie Gulbis finished 1 under 71 in a group of six players, and Michelle Wie was 1 over after three bogies and two birdies.

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