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Gonzales leads by 2 at Soboba Classic

San Jacinto, CA (Sports Network) - Andres Gonzales carded a bogey-free, four- under 67 on Thursday to grab the lead after the first round of the Soboba Classic.

Gonzales, who is still in search of his first Nationwide Tour victory, holds a two-stroke advantage over the field. Eight players share second place after carding two-under 69s, while another 14 are tied for 10th at minus-one.

Among those in second place is three-time Nationwide winner Justin Bolli. Chris Baryla and Bubba Dickerson, who have each won once on tour, are also in that group.

While the top of the leaderboard is crowded, with a number of players not far off the lead, only 22 players went below par.

Gonzales, who tied for second at the season-opening Colombia Championship, had the best round thanks to his lack of dropped strokes. He birdied two in a row from the fifth -- both par fives -- to make the turn at two-under. He then sank two more on his back nine, at 11 and 13.

He parred out to go into the clubhouse with a 67.

"I laid back on some holes that I didn't lay back on last year," Gonzales said. "You can get into trouble off the tee here. There are some really good driving holes out here and I managed to play them pretty well by laying back when I needed to."

The group tied for second includes players who stayed away from mistakes, or drained enough birdies to make up for bogeys.

Bolli, Derek Fathauer and Jeff Corr all made three birdies and stumbled to just one bogey, while Tim Wilkinson had four birdies and two bogeys.

On the other hand, there was Ben Briscoe, who fell to three-over after a rough start to his round. He had a double-bogey at the second and followed that up with a bogey. However, he managed five birdies in an eight-hole span to salvage his round.

"If you had told me on the fourth tee that I was going to shoot 69 I would have been grinning like a Cheshire cat," Briscoe said. "I would have signed my score and gone in to watch the Masters."

Charlie Beljan mixed four birdies and four bogeys to stand at even par after the 16th. But he ended his round with consecutive birdies to rise up the leaderboard.

Dickerson was at four-under approaching the ninth hole -- his 18th -- but fell to a double-bogey at the last to drop down. Baryla birdied his final hole to get into a share of second.

NOTES: Last year's winner Ted Potter, Jr. is not in the field to defend his title...Casey Wittenberg, who won the Louisiana Open two weeks ago, struggled to a six-over 77.

04/05 23:41:37 ET


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