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Kent Jones leads Buick Open

GRAND BLANC, Mich., Aug. 8 (UPI) -- Six months removed from his lone top-10 finish on the PGA Tour, Kent Jones fired a 7-under-par 65 on Thursday to grab a one-stroke lead after the opening round of the Buick Open.

The unheralded Jones found himself on a leaderboard that included Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Vijay Singh.

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"I kind of felt like it could happen," said Jones, who has missed the cut in half his 22 tournaments this season. "I mean, I had no idea it would be today, but I felt like I've been really close to playing well the last few weeks and not missing a couple cuts."

Jones, 35, collected seven birdies at the Warwick Hills Golf and Country Club for a one-shot lead over Mark Brooks and South Korea's K.J. Choi.

Woods was among nine players who opened with a 67 as he tunes up for next week's PGA Championship, the final major of the season.

"If I'm out there playing, I'm competing and trying to win this tournament, but right now, practice session-wise, I'll probably go out there and try and shape a few shots that I'll probably need for next week," Woods said.

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While Woods has 32 career PGA victories, Jones' lone top-10 finish came in the first week of February, when he tied for eighth at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

"I felt like I've been on the verge of playing well, and it seemed like today I finally made some putts," said Jones, a teammate of PGA Tour veteran Tim Herron at the University of New Mexico. "I kept the ball out of trouble for the most part."

In 1998, Jones was one stroke back through 36 holes here before tying for 12th place.

"I guess maybe because it's not so long," he said of his success at Warwick Hills. "You have to hit it pretty straight. If you're hitting it straight, I think anybody can play well here. I played well in '98. Also, I missed a couple of cuts here. So it's kind of hit or miss."

Among those tied with Woods at 67 were Hal Sutton, Jay Haas and Luke Donald.

Current PGA champion David Toms, who will defend his title next week, was at 68 while Mickelson birdied the last two holes to shoot a 69. Singh was in a large group at 70.

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