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Thursday, February 23, 2012
Will Claxton leads Mayakoba by one

Associated Press

PLAYA DEL CARMEN, Mexico -- Will Claxton shot a 5-under 66 in windy conditions Thursday to take a one-stroke lead after the first round of the Mayakoba Golf Classic.

Making his fifth career start on the PGA Tour, the 30-year-old former Auburn player had four straight birdies early on his back nine on the El Camaleon course.

Charles Howell III, Greg Owen, John Huh, Marc Turnesa, Alejandro Canizares, Matt Every and Mark D. Anderson were tied for second.

Claxton and Turnesa had the only bogey-free rounds.

"This golf course, it really keeps your attention off the tees," Howell said. "There's a lot of trouble out there, and it's too hard to get ahead of yourself here. The golf course almost helps you stay where you're at just because it demands a lot of focus and attention on it. Fortunately, I was able to drive the ball in play today, and that gives you a good chance around here to score."

Kevin Stadler, Josh Teater, Dicky Pride, Seung-Yul Noh, Hunter Haas, David Hearn, Michael Allen and Sung-Hoon Kang shot 68.

"It's really relaxing down here," Stadler said. "Golf course-wise, I think it's one of the best we play all year. I look forward to coming here every year. I tend to play well here. I think I'm just in a good place mentally down here."

Champions Tour player Nick Price opened with a 69.

"I don't feel that this course you need to overpower this course," Price said. "This course has got a lot of strategy on it, particularly off the tees, putting the ball in the right place. All in all, I played well today."

Defending champion Johnson Wagner had a 73. Wagner won the Sony Open in Hawaii in January and tied for second the following week in the Humana Challenge in California.

Last year, he beat Spencer Levin with a par on the first hole of a playoff.

Levin also opened with a 73.

Greg Norman, the El Camaleon designer, had a 79. The 57-year-old Norman played in a group with Wagner and Levin.

Mike Weir struggled to a 79 in his second start of the year.

Coming off surgery on his right elbow in August, the Canadian missed the cut two weeks ago in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am and failed to secure a sponsor exemption last week for the Northern Trust Open at Riviera.

Mexico's Jose de Jesus Rodriguez nearly aced the par-3 eighth, but his ball bounced out of the cup. He then made a 25-foot birdie putt, and finished with a 71.