GOLF : Lowery Is Surprised With 65, Atlanta Lead

From Associated Press

Steve Lowery had no reason to anticipate the seven-under-par 65 he shot Friday to take the first-round lead in the Atlanta Golf Classic.

"It's surprising," Lowery said. "The round just kind of came together. I wasn't all that confident when the day began."

Lowery, who put together four consecutive birdies at one stretch, held a one-shot lead over Dillard Pruitt, Mike Hulbert and Mark Carnevale.

"I've had some good rounds on this course," said Lowery, who in five previous seasons has never finished higher than 143rd on the money list.

His best finish was a tie for third in the 1991 Chattanooga Classic.

This year he is 84th on the money list, his best finish being a tie for 11th in the Phoenix Open.

Lowery shared the first-round lead two years ago with a 66 on the hilly 7,018-yard Atlanta Country Club course in Marietta, Ga. He never broke par the rest of the week and tied for 34th.

"Today, there were no expectations," he said. "I guess my expectations will be a little higher (today)."

Lowery's only bogey came on the 421-yard ninth hole--his last of the day--when he missed the green and failed to make a 10-foot par putt.

He had four birdies on the back side, the putts ranging from six to 15 feet.

Lowery began his string of birdies on No. 2, where he made a 12-footer, and followed that with putts of three, 20 and 10 feet.

Seven players were at 67, including Larry Nelson, who sank a 35-foot putt for an eagle-three on the final hole. Nelson's home is on the 18th fairway.

Also at 67 were Billy Andrade, David Ogrin, Neal Lancaster, John Huston, Nolan Henke, Mark Calcavecchia and rookie Russell Beiersdorf.

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