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Four share lead at Wachovia Championship

Golf Roundup

The Associated Press

CHARLOTTE, N.C. ' It was the kind of day Tiger Woods would have enjoyed. A round of golf on a traditional, tree-lined course that firmed up as the day went on, with conditions similar to a major championship.

Four players, including former U.S. Open champ Jim Furyk and rookie Bill Haas, shared the lead after the first round Thursday of the Wachovia Championship, all finishing with 4-under 68s. Woods wasn't there, having already decided to skip the tournament for the first time in three years to be with his father, Earl, who died of cancer on Wednesday.

He's obviously mentally very strong, and I think he got that from his dad, Justin Rose said. He'll cope, but it's not easy.

Rose should know. His father, Ken, died from cancer in 2002 at age 57, and he had been a very big part of his son's development. Ken Rose occasionally caddied for Justin during the early stages of his career.

Obviously, I was as close to my dad as he is to his, so I know exactly how hard it'll be for him right now, Rose said. The difference being, obviously, how much attention ... but that comes with being the No. — player in the world.

— Rose had a 70 and is tied for eighth at Quail Hollow, a favorite course of the players since the event's inception three years ago. The main draw is the course, which opened in 1961 and has featured improvements over the years from Arnold Palmer and famed designer Tom Fazio.

Sure, there are the Mercedes-Benz courtesy cars and other perks such as lunch served on the range, but the layout draws the most raves.

It gives you a U.S. Open kind of feel, with the greens firm and fast, and you really have to pay attention, said Billy Andrade, among three players tied for fifth after a 69. This is the kind of setup I like, the kind of setup I usually play well on.

South Africans Trevor Immelman and Rory Sabbatini also finished with 68s, while Masters champion Phil Mickelson, defending champ Vijay Singh and Ernie Els all had 71s. Singh defeated Furyk and Sergio Garcia in a playoff last year. Els is making his first appearance at Quail Hollow.

I definitely don't have a mind-set that the course owes me one or anything like that, Furyk said. I played well here last year, I gave it a good effort, and I was disappointed at that time, but now I have fond memories of it. It's good to come back, knowing my game's in good shape.

For Haas, this tournament already was special. He was joined in the field by his father, Jay Haas, and his brother, Jay Jr., the first time all three members of the family played in the same tournament. Jay Jr. got in through Monday qualifying, while Bill earned his card at Q-school last year and received a sponsor's exemption.

The last time a father played with two sons on the PGA Tour was at the 1994 Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, when Jack Nicklaus was in the field with Jackie and Gary.

Jay Jr. shot a 78 in the first round, three shots worse than Jay Sr.

LPGA ' At Franklin, Tenn., Angela Stanford and Beth Bader each shot 7-under 65 and shared a one-stroke lead over Grace Park after the first round of the Franklin American Mortgage Championship.

Stanford tied her career-low round and could have had the lead to herself if not for a lone bogey with eight birdies. Bader carded five birdies and an eagle as both took advantage of perfect scoring conditions with soft greens at the Vanderbilt Legends Club.

Park, overcoming a back injury that kept her winless in 2005, nearly made it a three-way tie atop the leaderboard. She missed a 3-foot par putt for her only bogey and finished with a 66.

Karrie Webb, Laura Diaz, Lorena Ochoa and Cristie Kerr all took advantage of the morning tee times and shot 67s. Only Young Kim, Patricia Meunier-Lebouc and Minea Blomqvist shot as low as 67 from the afternoon groups.

NATIONWIDE TOUR ' At Virginia Beach, Va., Jason Allred shot a 2-over-par 74 and is tied for 115th after the first round of the Virginia Beach Open.

Allred bogeyed his first two holes and had a bogey on the seventh hole and a double bogey on No. 12. He recorded three birdies.

John Merrick, Andrew Pratt and Gabriel Hjertstedt each fired a 6-under 66 to maintain a one-stroke lead over four other competitors.

ASIAN TOUR ' At Incheon, South Korea, Michelle Wie is in position to make the cut in a men's tournament for the first time.

She shot a 2-under-par 70 that left her five strokes off the lead in the first round of the SK Telecom Open.

The 16-year-old star from Hawaii had four birdies and two bogeys in her eighth attempt at making it to the weekend in a men's tournament. Adam Le Vesconte of Australia led after a 65 in the Asian tour event.

Wie, whose parents were born in South Korea, finished third in March at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, the first LPGA major.

If she makes the cut after today's second round, she will be the second woman to do so at a Korean tournament. Se Ri Pak tied for 10th at the KPGA Tour's SBS Pro-Golf Championship in 2003.