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Padraig Harrington displayed the form during Tuesday's first round that helped him win two majors this year. (Photo: The PGA of America)

Harrington, Furyk share first-round lead

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Padraig Harrington and Jim Furyk shot matching 2-under 68s Tuesday to share the first-round lead at the 26th PGA Grand Slam of Golf. Retief Goosen carded an even-par 70, while Trevor Immelman struggled to a 76.

By John Kim, PGA.com Coordinating Producer

TUCKER'S TOWN, Bermuda -- At first glance, a two-way tie for the lead at 2 under par might not seem particularly impressive when it's among four of the biggest names in golf. But considering
the breezy conditions and the difficulty of the Mid Ocean Club course and its several elevation changes, any score under par in the first round of the 26th PGA Grand Slam of Golf on Tuesday was cause for celebration.

PGA Championship and British Open winner Padraig Harrington and former U.S. Open winner Jim Furyk carded 2-under 68s, while two-time U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen came in at even-par 70 and Masters champion Trevor Immelman carded a 6-over 76 as the members of this elite foursome began the battle for their share of the $1.35 million dollar purse.

The second round of the two-day 36-hole tournament is set for Wednesday.

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An early-morning threat of rain, where visible showers surrounded but never quite crossed the island nation, could not dampen the enthusiasm of the large crowd that descended on the course to watch the most exclusive event in golf. However, a steady ocean breeze certainly put some teeth into a course that can be vulnerable to lower scores when conditions are more sedate.

Harrington, who led after the first day at the 2007 PGA Grand Slam of Golf, took an early lead with a birdie on the second hole after his approach hit the flagstick and bounced to about eight feet away. His slick downhill birdie putt dropped, and gave the only man to capture two majors this year the only score under par through the first seven holes.

His joy was short-lived, though, as Harrington's drive on the eighth hole found the thick trees on the left. He had to take an unplayable lie and ultimately carded a double bogey on the hole.

Immelman stumbled on the short par-four fourth hole with a three-putt bogey. Immelman made a great birdie on the sixth hole with a solid drive and approach, but gave that shot back after his tee shot on the seventh found an awkward lie in a greenside bunker. He was only able to blast out and attempt a 30-foot par putt that barely slipped by.

Goosen, who along with Furyk was invited to compete after Tiger Woods could not make it due to his knee injury, assumed the lead after his approach on the eighth hole stopped a few feet from the pin to give him his first birdie of the day after seven straight pars. However, Goosen then followed that with his first bogey of the day, which meant that no player made the turn under par.

"It wasn't easy getting it close on some of the holes, even when you're going uphill or going downhill," Goosen said. "You're playing a lot of crosswind shots so you hit the wrong shape and you end up a long way from the flag."

Furyk's round was the most volatile, with two birdies and two bogeys dotting his card on the front nine. Furyk gave the crowd its biggest thrill with a 7-iron tee shot on the par-3 seventh hole that hit part of the hole before stopping a few inches away.

"I'm a little shorter than everyone; I got to go fourth," explained Furyk. "Everyone else hit 8s and I think that made it a little easier being the fourth player on that hole."

The under-par drought did not last long, though, as both Goosen and Immelman came out with a birdie on the 10th hole, while Furyk and Harrington made pars.

But the 487-yard, par-5 11th really created the most separation among the golfers. Immelman's 3-iron second shot found a thick area of brush and trees on the right and he was forced to take an unplayable lie, leading to a double bogey.

Goosen and Harrington both had to scramble to save pars, but Furyk was able to get his ball on the green in two swings and had only a 6-foot putt for eagle -- which he calmly stepped up and drained. The wild swing led to the biggest spread in scores of the day, with Furyk vaulting into the lead at 2 under and Immelman dropping to fourth at 2 over.

The stumble seemed to unsettle the Masters champion for a moment as he bogeyed three of the next five holes. As the players walked off the 16th green after a Harrington birdie, there was a three-way tie for the lead while Immelman sat seven shots back at 6 over.

When asked after the round if he still had a chance to compete for the title, Immelman laughed but offered a blunt "No" to reporters.

"That's just honest. What am I, eight back? Obviously these guys are playing well," he explained. "I just have to go try and go out there and play a better round tomorrow."

A Goosen bogey on the par-3 17th dropped him from the three-way tie for the lead and his par on the final hole gave him an even-par 70. Furyk was able to birdie the par-5 closing hole, as did Harrington, and the two concluded the first round tied for the lead.

Harrington was awarded the 2008 PGA Player of the Year award in a special ceremony following the round.

"If you told me I was going to win and I could go on and win more majors," Harrington said, explaining that
he believed he had the talent. "But to do it so quickly and to do it so close together, to take the opportunity when I got them, that's very special for me."

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