Bowditch leads Byron Nelson with blistering first round

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Steven Bowditch of Australia hits his tee shot on the 15th hole during round one of the AT&T Byron Nelson at the TPC Four Seasons Resort Las Colinas on Fridayin Irving,Texas. AFP PHOTO

Steven Bowditch of Australia hits his tee shot on the 15th hole during round one of the AT&T Byron Nelson at the TPC Four Seasons Resort Las Colinas on Fridayin Irving,Texas. AFP PHOTO

DALLAS: Steven Bowditch, an Australian who has made his home in Texas, upstaged native son Jordan Spieth on Thursday (Friday in Manila), grabbing a two-shot lead in the Byron Nelson Championship with a sparkling 62.

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Bowditch, seeking a second victory on the USPGA Tour, had eight birdies in his eight-under effort and a two-stroke lead over American Jimmy Walker, who had seven birdies and a bogey in his six-under 64.

Americans Ryan Palmer and James Hahn shared third on 65, with Tom Gillis, John Merrick and 2011 PGA Championship winner Keegan Bradley a further stroke back on 66.

Spieth, the 21-year-old Masters champion, settled for a one-under 69 that left him tied for 33rd.

Bowditch’s round matched his best ever on the US tour.

He set the tone early, rolling in a 24-foot birdie putt at his opening hole. He drained birdie putts of 30, 29 and 18 feet and said his decision to add a little weight to his putter on Thursday had helped him produce the best putting round of his PGA career.

“I typically don’t make a lot of longer putts,” Bowditch said.

Bowditch said keeping it in the fairway was also key on the rain-soaked TPC Four Seasons course.

“I stayed aggressive, kept hitting drivers and getting them on the golf course,” he said. “The greens are great. They are soft but you can still make some putts out there.”

Spieth’s sensational victory at Augusta National made him the first Texan to win a major title since Justin Leonard won the 1997 British Open.

He’s been the focus of adoring attention both at last week’s Colonial in nearby Fort Worth and this week at the tournament he first played as a 16-year-old.

“Not a whole lot you can do with only two birdies in the round,” said Spieth, who also had one bogey.

Bowditch ended up in the Dallas-Fort Worth area by chance, saying he “basically threw a dart at the map” when he decided to set up a US base in 2005.

He met his wife in Texas and has now lived here a decade, saying with a smile: “I’m stuck now.”

Fittingly, his only win on the US Tour came at San Antonio last year, when he was one of three Australians to notch a Texas win along with Matt Jones in Houston and Adam Scott at Colonial.

AFP

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