TUCSON, Feb. 27 (UPI) -- Veteran Dicky Pride, who endured a difficult 2002 season due to health problems, fired a 7-under-par 65 on Thursday to take a one-stroke lead after the opening round of the Chrysler Classic of Tucson.
With the world's highest-ranked players in California for the Match Play Championship, this tournament affords a perfect opportunity for a first-year player to capture his initial PGA Tour victory. Stewart Cink is the highest-ranked player in the field at 71st in the world.
But it was the 32-year-old Pride who emerged with a first-round lead for only the second time in 254 career starts. Pride, whose lone PGA Tour win came at the 1994 St. Jude Classic, needed just 20 putts.
Pride missed four months last year due to an attack of gallstones and pancreatitis and had to be fed from a tube for 2 1/2 months. After tying for 25th here, he did play again until late June at the Greater Hartford Open.
Pride had three top-10 finishes last year with his best effort being a tie for 15th at the John Deere Classic.
Among the rookies in the field is Andy Miller, son of four-time Chrysler Open winner Johnny Miller. The younger Miller carded a 1-under 71.