KAPALUA, Hawaii, Jan. 3 (UPI) -- Nick Watney
opened the PGA Tour season Thursday with a 5-under 68 that put him one shot in front at the Mercedes-Benz Championship in Kapalua, Hawaii.
Watney won in New Orleans last year for his first triumph in three full seasons on the tour, and he got 2008 started right by making three straight birdies beginning at the third hole.
He also birdied two of the last four holes on the Kapalua Plantation Course.
Daniel Chopra was alone in second after firing a 69 while Jonathan Byrd, Aaron Baddeley and U.S. Open champion Angel Cabrera were all at 70. Mike Weir and Brandt Snedeker were at 71.
The 31-player field contains only winners from the tour last year. But as they have in recent years, the two biggest winners are skipping the season-opening event.
Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are not playing. Neither is Padraig Harrington, who captured the 2007 British Open.
Steve Stricker, who became the first player in PGA Tour history to win the comeback player of the year award twice in a row, was at 73 along with Woody Austin. Jim Furyk and Vijay Singh both shot 74.
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