May 25, 2006

Chris Smith sets early pace in Memphis

NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) - American Chris Smith put behind him
a miserable start to the year by taking early control at the
St. Jude Classic in Memphis, Tennessee on Thursday.

The 37-year-old from Indiana fired a flawless six-under-par
64 to move two strokes clear in the opening round at the TPC at

Smith, who has missed five cuts in eight PGA Tour
appearances this season, birdied four of the first nine holes
to reach the turn in four-under 31.

He picked up further shots at the 16th and 17th to finish
two ahead of compatriot D.A. Points on a hot and humid day.

The big-hitting Smith is chasing his second PGA Tour title,
having clinched his maiden victory at the 2002 Buick Classic.

Former world number one Nick Price of Zimbabwe, playing his
eighth Tour event of the year, was among a group of five on 68.

St. Jude Classic champion in 1993 and 1998, Price mixed
three birdies with a solitary bogey to sit level with Americans
Mark Calcavecchia, Fred Funk, Steve Stricker and Zach Johnson.

John Cook, who set a tournament record low aggregate of 258
to win the 1996 title, was a further stroke back on 69 while
Tim Herron, winner of last week's Colonial tournament, opened
with a 70.

American Ryder Cup player Chris DiMarco returned a 73 and
John Daly a 77 to head a list of several big names in early
danger of missing the halfway cut

Twice winner and world number eight David Toms, the only
member of the world's top 10 in this week's field, and
defending champion Justin Leonard were among the late starters.

(Writing by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles)