Sluman leads at Byron Nelson

May 15, 2003 at 6:32 PM
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IRVING, Texas, May 15 (UPI) -- Jeff Sluman used his new-found putting stroke to earn the lead Thursday after the first round of the Byron Nelson Championship.

Sluman reeled off seven birdies in a flawless 7-under-par 63 at Cottonwood Valley, one of two courses used for the event.

He was one shot in front of Jim Furyk, Billy Andrade and Kevin Sutherland while Phil Mickelson and Vijay Singh were among a large group two shots behind.

Sluman has never been regarded as a bad putter, but he said for the first time in his life he now understands what he needs to do mechanically to make a good stroke.

The man who illuminated him was fellow pro Stan Utley, who no longer is on the tour but is still regarded as a putter of the highest order.

"I haven't made putts you need to make to keep rounds going or to get that really low round in there," Sluman said. "I called Stan a couple of weeks ago and took a putting lesson over the phone.

"Desperate men do desperate things. He's the first man who's ever really been able to explain to me what you actually have to do for a really good putting stroke. He put it in very simple terms for me."

Sluman said the change is in its infancy but, "I certainly like the results so far. I have to think that what he has told me is working right now."

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