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"It was a good grind back after a tough start," said Donald. "They're not the widest fairways and the penalty for missing them is very severe. The rough is as thick as we ve seen all year and that adds a little pressure on the tee because you know you have to hit the fairway to have a chance to reach the green."
Woody Austin, who holed out from 121 yards for eagle on No. 16 to get to 3-under, then missed a 15-foot par putt after driving into the rough on 18, didn't mind.
"You cannot miss the fairway," Austin said after having to chip out to it on his final hole. "It's nice in this day and age where the best guy doesn't win on a regular basis -- it s usually the guy who putts his butt off that wins -- so it's nice to play a golf course where you know who is playing the best."
Blanks, who started on No. 10, was actually 1-over through 12 holes, but turned it around with back-to-back birdie putts on the next two. The 38-year-old from Georgia then holed out from the front bunker for an eagle on the 551-yard, par-5 seventh hole -- his 16th of the day -- to get to 3-under and take the lead.
"We had perfect scoring conditions with a little rain to soften the greens," he said. "I felt fortunate to get the ball in the fairway and capitalize."
Blanks hit 11 of 14 fairways, which led to 15 of 18 greens in regulation.
"You definitely have to be on the fairway and if that means laying back off the tee a little more than you normally do, it's definitely more advantageous to hit a longer club from fairway than hacking out of the rough," he said.
NOTES: England's Paul Casey, ranked 15th in the world, opened with a 6-over 76. Canada's Mike Weir, who has fallen to 475th in the rankings, shot 74. Louis Ooosthuizen, who won the 2010 British Open, was 5-over. ... Els is using Dan Quinn, a former NHL player who was once captain of the hometown Vancouver Canucks, as his caddy this week for the first time this year. Quinn, who was seventh at last week's American Century Championship celebrity tournament in Lake Tahoe, was on Els' bag for half of last season. ... Blanks parted ways with his caddy, A.J. Eathorne, a former LPGA player who grew up in British Columbia, in early May. Eathorne and Blanks were introduced by former NHL goalie Grant Fuhr, who also plays a lot of celebrity tour golf.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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