Rookie Turnesa charges into lead at Viking Classic

MADISON, Miss.(AP) Marc Turnesa can sum up his first year on the PGA Tour with one word: ``Shaky.''

``It hasn't been that great,'' Turnesa admitted.

A few more days like the one he had Thursday, though, and Turnesa will have to start looking for new adjectives. The rookie from Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., shot a 7-under 65 to take a one-stroke lead over Brian Gay in the opening round of the Viking Classic.

The 30-year-old used just 22 putts to hold off a pair of former PGA Tour winners in an eclectic group giving chase at Annandale Golf Club.

``To be honest with you, I'm surprised I shot 7-under today,'' a bemused Turnesa said. ``I didn't really feel like I was hitting it great and I didn't hit it great. But putting is a great equalizer. If you can make putts you can get away with a lot of things.''

Turnesa had eight birdies, taking advantage of ideal morning conditions for 12 one-putts and another he rolled in from the fringe.

``The 22 putts shows that I putted well, but it shows I didn't hit a lot of greens,'' Turnesa said. ``A couple of putts in from the fringe and that number looks pretty great.''

Two-time U.S. Open champion Lee Janzen, who hasn't won on tour since 1998, Jay Williamson, Dicky Pride, Nathan Green, Brad Adamonis and Andrew Buckle are at 5 under. Fourteen others sit three strokes off the lead.

Though Jansen and Gay have won before, most of the players atop the leaderboard are looking for a breakthrough. Take Williamson, who turned pro in 1990 with irregular success. At 41, he's had a pair of near misses in the last two years and feels he's ready.

``I've been out here long enough, I've made enough cuts - it's time for me to get to that next level somehow,'' Williamson said.

And for Pride, a win would mean no more shifting back and forth between the PGA and Nationwide tours.

``It's just brutal,'' Pride said. ``The theory on it is you want to stay on the Nationwide and get fully exempt while you're out there. But when you play for only 10 percent of what you normally play for, the reality comes down to I'll make a lot more money out here and this is my job.''

Janzen has been struggling with his game for years, but has played well lately and feels he could be returning to championship form. He joined the leaders after overcoming a bogey on No. 2, making four straight birdies on Nos. 13-16 to take an early clubhouse lead.

``I've just been trying to forge ahead,'' Janzen said. ``That's really all I've been trying to do over the past couple of years basically. Today I made a few putts and that really made a difference.

``Once you make a couple it feels like you're going to make the rest.''

Turnesa had a similar feeling Thursday. He finished his round with three straight birdies and hopes he can parlay his fast start into another tour victory for his family.

His grandfather, Mike, was one of seven Turnesa brothers who terrorized the PGA Tour during the mid-20th century. Mike Turnesa won six PGA Tour events and finished runner-up to Ben Hogan at the 1948 PGA Championship. Uncle Joe was a 15-time tour winner and Uncle Willie was a two-time U.S. Amateur champion.

Turnesa just wants a piece of the family action. And if he doesn't win, he'll show up at each of the six remaining tournaments this year to continue his chase for an exemption. He needs to move up 44 spots on the money list to play the PGA Tour full-time next year.

``I'm playing all of them,'' Turnesa said. ``I really don't think I've given myself much of a choice. Unless I win this week, then I'll probably take one of them off. The position I'm in, I need to get up there on the money list.''

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