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Lucas Glover sets pace in PGA Tour's season opener

By Mark Lamport-Stokes

KAPALUA, Hawaii (Reuters) - U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover shrugged off an ugly double-bogey at the opening hole to charge into a one-shot lead in Thursday's first round of the SBS Championship.

The long-hitting American made the most of ideal scoring conditions at the Kapalua Resort, recording two eagles over the front nine on the way to a sparkling seven-under-par 66.

Glover signed off with his sixth birdie of the day at the par-five last to finish a stroke in front of compatriots Matt Kuchar, Nick Watney and Dustin Johnson, Britain's Martin Laird and Australian Nathan Green.

Glover, who covered the nine-hole stretch from the fifth in a sizzling nine under par, was delighted with the way he rebounded after running up a six at the opening hole on the hilly Plantation Course.

"Obviously a rocky start but I turned it around on five with an eagle and that kind of got things going," the 30-year-old told reporters after a day of relatively gentle trade winds on the Hawaiian island of Maui.

"I made a mile of putts from (hole) five through to 13. I felt like I should have made a couple more on 14 and 15 but it just didn't happen. I had a good birdie on 18 to finish up a good day."

Glover very nearly eagled the par-five last, his wedge approach from 72 yards rolling up to the front edge of the cup before curling off to the left just nine inches away.

"Maybe one more roll and it might have been there," he said with a broad grin. "I wasn't planning on that or expecting it. I'm happy with two (eagles)."

Glover eagled the fifth after hitting a six-iron to 18 feet and also the ninth after successive three-woods left him 28 feet from the cup.

STAYING PATIENT

"Just be patient," he said of his strategy after messing up the opening hole. "I knew there were a lot of birdies.

"I saw some scores early and I knew guys were making birdies and if I played well, I could get something going, so just don't rush anything, be patient.

Laird struck the first shot of the 2010 PGA Tour season, splitting the first fairway, before climbing into contention with four successive birdies from the par-four 13th.

"Four birdies in a row on the back nine was really nice," said the Scot, who booked his place in the elite field of 28 at Kapalua with victory at last year's Las Vegas Open.

"I tend to struggle putting on Bermuda (grass) sometimes but I read the greens well today. My pace was good after struggling at the start of the week, so that was nice."

Australian Geoff Ogilvy, who romped to victory at Kapalua last year by a commanding six shots, birdied three of the last four holes for an opening 69.

World number three Steve Stricker, the highest-ranked player in the field in the absence of fellow Americans Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, carded a level-par 73.

Only two players -- Americans Mark Wilson (74) and Heath Slocum (75) -- finished over par on a day when the average score was 69.86.

(Editing by Patrick Johnston)