Three share lead at Midwest Classic

Ben Martin was one of three players to card a 6-under 65 on Thursday to grab a share of the first-round lead at the Midwest Classic.

Martin, who won the United Leasing Championship in June, was joined by Chris Smith and Tyrone Van Aswegen atop the leaderboard at Nicklaus Golf Club at LionsGate.

"My game started out pretty solid at the beginning of the year and I've been building off that and getting a little bit better each week," said Martin. "I got off to a good start today which is key here. If you shoot even-par here you're behind the eight ball."

Matthew Goggin sits in fourth place at 5-under 66.

Steven Alker, who won last week's Utah Championship, is among a group of 18 players tied for fifth place at 4-under.

Martin was the only co-leader to start his round on the first tee and he followed an opening par with consecutive birdies at the second and third.

He capped his outward 32 with a birdie at the ninth, but tripped to a bogey at the 10th to fall back to minus-2.

He got that stroke back with a birdie at the 12th and followed by chipping in for an eagle at the 13th to reach 5-under. He later birdied the last to end at 6-under.

Smith, who was the lone co-leader to post a bogey-free round, opened by pouring in a bogey at the 10th.

After parring his next three holes, he recorded birdies at the 14th and 16th to make the turn at 3-under.

Smith then posted back-to-back birdies at the second and third to reach 5- under and followed five straight pars with a birdie at the ninth to grab a share of the lead.

"There are just so many good players out there and I'm hoping to play well enough to get into the reshuffle later this year and perhaps get into the final four or five events," said Smith, who is in the field after qualifying on Monday for the third straight week.

Van Aswegen also started on the back nine and birdied the 10th, 13th and 16th before tripping to a bogey at the 17th.

He got that stroke back with a gain at the first and moved to 5-under with an eagle at the third.

He traded a birdie at the fifth with a bogey at the eighth to remain there, but birdied the ninth to also head into the clubhouse at 6-under.

Goggin briefly joined the group at 6-under by following a bogey at the 10th -- his first -- with birdies at Nos. 11, 13, 15, 16, 2, 3 and 6, but he tripped to a bogey at the seventh to fall a shot off the pace and finished with a pair of pars to remain there.

NOTES: Martin has shot 14 straight rounds at par or better ... He has finished inside the top three in his last three starts ... Alker, Danny Lee, Richard S. Johnson, Gavin Coles, Zack Miller and Jeff Klauk also shot bogey-free rounds.