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Smith uses record round to take WACO lead

August 11, 2002

Not only did Kenny Smith prove he's a good golfer. He showed he's a heck of a impressionist, too.

Smith gave a local rendition of the Tiger Woods show, shooting five under on the four par-five holes at Beaver Creek Country Club on Saturday in a record-setting performance that left him with a five-stroke lead after the first round of the 19th annual WACO Open.

Smith fired a tournament-record 67, ignited by a record back nine of 32, to open up his ample lead over five other players heading into today's final round.

"The course is in good shape, and the greens are rolling nice. The speed of the greens are good" the 27-year-old said. "The pin placements were in unusual positions, but I liked them. I hit the ball great today. I hit 16 of the 18 greens, and parred the 2 holes that I missed."

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Smith did most of his damage on the back, starting with an eagle on No. 11 before a run of three straight birdies holes No. 13-15 to cap the run, capping his fourth appearance in the WACO.

"No. 11 was the key hole in my round," Smith said. "I had just three-putted No.10 for a bogey. On 11, I chipped in from 15 feet for an eagle, and everything from that point went smooth."

Smith used the favorable conditions of an 8:30 a.m. tee time to post his score to shoot for. The group of A.J. Bachman, Chad Bricker, Finley Benjamin, Ken Lampard and Adam Frank each fired 72 to tie for second.

Chuck Ingram, Greg Henry, Tim Stiner and Charlie Narciso are another stroke off the pace after shooting 73 each.

Bricker, 15, will try to be the youngest winner of the WACO. Bachman, from Baltimore will round out the final group. Bachman is also a teenager.

The pair will join Smith in the final round, which is scheduled to tee off at 2:50 p.m.

Lurking in the background are Lampard, who is the current Beaver Creek club champion while Benjamin was the 1999 WACO Champ.

The popularity of the tournament forced the expansion of the field this year. In the past, only 160 players were allowed to enter. It was raised to 200 for this year.

A new champion will usher in the new era of the WACO because defending champion Bill Wingerd did not return to defend his 2001 title.

Smith broke the 19-year-old scoring record with his five birdies and one eagle. He used his long accurate drives to get an advantage on Beaver Creek's narrow layout and his early start time to shoot at the pin.

That style is remincent of Woods, who has used his length and accuracy to have his way with the PGA Tour over recent years.

But Smith will have to deal with the same conditions as the rest of the field today. All of his competitors are teeing off in the final five groupings.

"I had an aggressive game plan with the driver, but used irons to lay-up on the shorter par 4s." he said. "(Today), I'll use the same game plan."

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