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JB Holmes & Davis Love boost US Masters hopes

-6 JB Holmes (US) D Love (US) -5 H Stenson (Swe), M Weir (Can) -4 R Allenby (Aus), K Na (US), K Streelman (US) E Els (SA) Selected others: -1 G McDowell (NI), P Mickelson (US) Level C Montgomerie (Sco) +2 M Laird (Sco), B Davis (Eng) +3 J Rose (Eng)

Davis Love
Love has won 20 PGA Tour titles

JB Holmes and Davis Love boosted their hopes of making the Masters by taking a share of the first-round lead in the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

At 58th and 89th in the rankings, the pair entered the event needing strong showings to move towards the world top 50 and qualification for the major.

And they responded with six-under-par rounds of 66 to take a one-shot lead at the Bay Hill course.

Henrik Stenson and Mike Weir shot 67s, with Ernie Els a shot further back.

South Africa's Els, who won the WGC-CA Championship title two weeks ago, was part of a four-man group tied for joint-fifth along with America's Kevin Na and Kevin Streelman and Australian Robert Allenby.

However, it was United States pair Holmes and Love who set the early pace, the latter recovering from a bogey on the first to hit four birdies and an eagle over the next five holes.

Holmes' round was a more prosaic, bogey-free affair, the 27-year-old happy just to have put recent putting troubles behind him.

"I hit the ball well. I think I hit 17 greens, and I putted pretty well, too. I made a couple of long putts, and that definitely helped," he said.

"I was terrified [putting] before, but I'm more surprised now it's not going in, even on 30-footers."

Swede Stenson reached four under through six holes before bogeys at the eighth and 10th knocked his round, though he birdied the par-five 16th to finish level with Canada's Weir.

Italian Edoardo Molinari and Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell were the next best Europeans, joined by world number three Phil Mickelson on one under for a tie for 18th place.

England's Justin Rose, another player looking to earn a place in the Masters, finished the first round tied for 94th following a three-over-par 75.

European Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie carded a level-par 72, while fellow Scot Martin Laird shot 74.

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see also
International Open leaderboard
07 Sep 09 |  Live scores
Golf on the BBC
01 Jul 11 |  Golf
Nerveless Els clinches CA title
14 Mar 10 |  Golf

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