Danny Lee early leader at Colombia Champs

FRED WOODCOCK
Last updated 12:06 01/03/2013

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New Zealand golfer Danny Lee has shrugged off a missed cut in his season-opener last week to fire in a seven-under par 64 and take the first round lead at the US$700,000 ($NZ845,400) Colombia Championship on the Web.com Tour.

The Kiwi No 3 set the early benchmark at the Country Club de Bogota in Bogota, bouncing back from a bogey at the second hole with eight birdies, including four in succession around the turn before closing out his round with three consecutive birdies.

Lee's morning round held firm at the top despite charges in the afternoon from Americans Sam Saunders and Shane Bertsch, who had to settle for a share of second after six-under 65s.

Saunders, a grandson of golfing great Arnold Palmer, got to eight-under par in a round that included two eagles but he double bogeyed his last hole, the par-four ninth, to drop back behind Lee.

The 22-year-old New Zealander is embarking on a full season on the United States second-tier tour as he looks to regain fulltime status on the PGA Tour in 2014, having lost his card following a disappointing rookie season last year.

He missed the cut in the first tournament in Panama last week but quickly put that out of his mind in the Colombian capital today.

The top 25 players on the Web.com Tour's money list at year's end will earn a card next year. The next 50 players will vie with players ranked 126-200 on the PGA Tour money list in a four-tournament playoff series at the end of the season, when a further 25 cards will be up for grabs.

Meanwhile, New Zealand No 2 Michael Campbell is off the pace after the opening round of the European Tour's Tshwane Open in Centurion, near Pretoria in South Africa. Campbell opened with an even-par 72, which mixed four birdies with four bogeys, and shares 80th.

He is seven shots behind the leader, South African Darren Fichardt, who had a seven-under par 65 to lead by one shot 

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