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Mallinger, Kang share lead in Tennessee

John Mallinger and Sunghoon Kang both fired under 63s Thursday to share the first-round lead at the News Sentinel Open at Fox Den Country Club.

Mallinger and Kang both spent most of the year playing on the PGA Tour, and are both looking for their first victory on either circuit.

Brian Bateman, Garrett Willis, who is from nearby Knoxville, and Kevin Kisner are one stroke off the lead as they share third at minus-eight.

J.J. Killeen and Mathew Goggin have the most to gain this week as they could both advance to the PGA Tour with a victory. Both have two wins this year and a third win earns an automatic promotion to the PGA Tour.

Killeen carded a five-under 67 and is tied for 14th. Goggin managed just a one-under 71, which left him in a share of 79th.

Mallinger opened with a chip-in eagle on the par-five first and came back with a birdie on the third. After three straight pars, Mallinger poured in four birdies in a five-hole span from the seventh.

The 31-year-old moved to minus-eight when he birdied the 14th. Mallinger carded the final birdie of his round on the par-three 16th.

"After chipping in for eagle on the first hole and then making a short birdie putt on the third hole, it felt like it was going to be a day without any hiccups," said Mallinger. "The putter is hot right now. Once you start holing putts, the confidence comes back."

Kang, who lost in playoff at the BMW Charity Pro-Am, did all of his scoring in two big bunches. He started his round with a birdie on the first and that touched off a run of five consecutive birdies to open his round.

The 24-year-old native of South Korea parred four in row to end his first nine. Around the turn, Kang birdied four of the first five holes to jump to nine-under. There was an chance for Kang to shoot 59, but he parred the last four holes, including the par-five 18th.

"I started really well today. The greens are rolling really true right now," Kang stated. "I know if I hit a good putt it'll go in."

Kang took two months off earlier this year to fulfill a military commitment. His commitment was cut from two years to just one month because he was a member of his country's gold medal-winning team at the 2006 Asian Games.

Boo Weekley and John Daly are both in the field this week. Both players carded two-under 70s and are tied for 58th.

NOTES: With good scoring conditions on Thursday, 107 of the 156 players that started broke par in round one and there were 17 bogey-free rounds...This is one of four tournaments that have been on the schedule since the tour started in 1990.