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WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. – Jonas Blixt’s memory of raising the trophy last year carried over to a strong start at the Greenbrier Classic.

The defending champion shot a 6-under-par 64 on Thursday to take a one-stroke lead over former Stanford standout Patrick Rodgers and seven others in the PGA Tour event at Old White TPC.

Blixt tied for second in the Masters in April but missed the cut in three of his last four starts. Returning to The Greenbrier resort brought him back to a comfort zone.

Starting on the 10th hole, Blixt had six birdies on his front nine and made the turn at 5 under. Six of the Swede’s eight birdies came on putts of 10 feet or less. He also chipped in from the rough for a birdie on No. 16.

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Rodgers is looking to make his third straight cut since turning pro. He holed a 118-yard wedge for an eagle on the par-4 first hole — his 10th hole of the day.

After the round, he was back on the driving range.

“Being a new pro out here, you’re always trying to figure out and establish your routines,” Rodgers said, “and mine is just kind of cool down after the round and working on the things I felt like I can improve, and hopefully be ready for tomorrow.”

Also at 65 were Chris Kirk, D.A. Points, James Hahn, Jason Bohn, Joe Durant, Jim Renner and Danny Lee.

Michael Putnam, who is from University Place, and Kevin Chappell, who owns a home in Kirkland, were among the players tied for 18th at 67.

Former Washington Husky Troy Kelly (69) was tied for 53rd place.

Kyle Stanley of Gig Harbor and ex-Huskies Richard H. Lee and Alex Prugh were among the players tied for 92nd place at 71.

Couples to miss major

EDMOND, Okla. – Seattle native Fred Couples withdrew from the U.S. Senior Open because of a back injury, and Craig Stadler and Graham Marsh also pulled out of the major tournament next week at Oak Tree National because of injuries.

Couples was runner-up to Bernhard Langer in the 2010 U.S. Senior Open at Sahalee Country Club in Sammamish.


• American Kevin Stadler shot a 7-under 64 in his French Open debut to lead by a stroke after the first round in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines.

Marcel Siem of Germany was in second place, and Stephen Gallacher (66) of Scotland was in third.

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