(Reuters) – Double major winner Angel Cabrera of Argentina and Venezuelan Jhonattan Vegas both fired six-under-par 65s to share the first-round lead at the Barbasol Championship in Alabama on Thursday.
With most of golf’s elite engaged in the British Open, big hitters Cabrera, 46, and Vegas, 31, both took advantage of their length at the RTJ Trail Grand National layout at Opelika with bogey-free rounds spiced by eagles on the par-five 13th hole.
The co-leaders were one shot ahead of a pack of seven pursuers at five-under 66 that included Scotsman Martin Laird and Americans Ben Crane, Michael Kim and Shawn Stefani.
Vegas said being able to slam it off the tee was a big help on the Alabama layout close by Auburn University.
“There is a huge advantage if you can carry 310 yards or so because you can carry the bunkers that come into play, especially at the par-fives,” the Venezuelan said.
With the points chase heating up for the season-ending FedExCup playoffs, Vegas said this was an important week.
“It’s a great opportunity, especially with the playoffs getting closer and closer,” said the 240th-ranked Vegas, who stands 91st in the FedExCup points standings.
“Every week here counts a lot, and opposite a major with guys playing on the other side (of the ocean), it’s a super important week.”
(Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Frank Pingue)