Date: June 01, 2007

Pampling, O’Hern share lead

Rod Pampling and Nick O&aposHern have fired seven under rounds of 65 to be in a share of the lead after day one of the Memorial tournament in Ohio on Thursday. Pampling has been playing well lately without much to show for it, due, he says, to an uncooperative putter, but he had no trouble finding the hole on Thursday, draining nine birdies, including a 20-footer at the last. “I was thankful I had a few good reads off my playing partners, which certainly helped make some putts, and I finished off the last with a nice birdie,” said the two-time PGA Tour winner. O&aposHern made his move late, picking up five birdies in a scorching six-hole stretch starting at the 11th. “A round like this has been in the makings,” said O&aposHern. “It&aposs been a long time coming, but I&aposve put in a lot of hard work and it&aposs starting to pay off.” Aaron Baddeley is a shot further back on six under after a solid 66. Ernie Els carded an impressive six-under-par 66 in the opening round to put pressure on a leading pack of three. Els&apos recent form has been poor but he showed signs of life to move within one stroke of leaders Sean O&aposHair, Pampling and O&aposHern at Muirfield Village. Tiger Woods did not capitalise on a strong start, three under through six holes, closing with a pedestrian two-under 70, while Phil Mickelson withdrew after 11 holes due to a left-wrist injury. Els, putting cross-handed for the first time over an entire round, stormed home with five back nine birdies. “I&aposve had a pretty tough time for most part of this year,” said the South African, who is coming off a tie for 24th at the European Tour&aposs BMW PGA Championship last Sunday. “My game hasn&apost been really good, especially the last three weeks, especially on the greens. I&aposve been very uncomfortable, very frustrated.” Els, who has not won on the PGA Tour since 2004, was so frustrated last Sunday that he experimented putting cross-handed the final nine holes, and the initial results were positive. “It was a tough decision to make, when you&aposve putted the conventional way all your life and been a pretty good putter, to go the other way,” said the three-time major winner. “But the path of the stroke is pretty good, and that&aposs all that counts, I guess.” Els was far from flawless, but he used a sharp short game to extricate himself on the few occasions he was in trouble. “It wasn&apost a perfect round, but I had a bunker shot that went in on 13 for birdie, and I chipped in for par on 17. So I made a couple of mistakes here and there, but I felt comfortable.” He joined Baddeley, Bubba Watson, Tim Herron and Ryan Moore in a tie for third, while O&aposHair, Pampling and O&aposHern led with seven-under 65s. O&aposHair is making his first appearance since the Players Championship, where three weeks ago he challenged Mickelson for victory until a quadruple bogey at the penultimate hole. But O&aposHair seems to have put that disappointment behind him, and his swing is certainly still in the groove. “I started hitting the ball well from the beginning,” said O&aposHair, who had eight birdies in the first 13 holes before cooling off slightly, dropping a shot at the 17th. “I was picking good targets and hitting the shots the way I wanted, most of them anyway. I rolled the ball great (on the greens) too. My speed control was really good.” Pampling&aposs card was identical to O&aposHair&aposs on the front nine, both players making birdies at the same five holes. Woods, meanwhile, lamented what might have been: “I had it going through six (holes) and made just a terrible bogey at seven and a few more mistakes after that. “It&aposs a little frustrating in the sense I had an opportunity to shoot four, five, six under today. Today was just a great day to score. The course was playing pretty benign.” Results from round one of the Memorial Tournament, Ohio: -7: Sean O&aposHair 65, Rod Pampling (Australia) 65, Nick O&aposHern(Australia) 65 -6: Aaron Baddeley(Australia) 66, Tim Herron 66, Ernie Els 66, Bubba Watson 66, Ryan Moore 66 -5: Will MacKenzie 67 -4: Ted Purdy 68, Billy Mayfair 68, Matt Kuchar 68, Steve Lowery 68, Nick Watney 68, Carl Pettersson 68, Fredrik Jacobson 68 also: -2: Stuart Appleby (Australia) 70, Adam Scott (Australia) 70, Geoff Ogilvy (Australia) 70 -1: Robert Allenby (Australia) 71, John Senden (Australia) 71, Mark Hensby (Australia) 71 E: Peter Lonard (Australia) 72 1: Nathan Green (Australia) 73