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(Reuters) - Three days after sealing a U.S. Open spot via a gruelling 36-hole qualifier, Stewart Cink carried his good form into the first round of the St. Jude Classic in Memphis on Thursday to earn a four-way tie for the lead with a six-under-par 64.
Cink ran up nine birdies and three bogeys in a rollercoaster round at TPC Southwind to join Matt Every, Scott Brown and Colombian Sebastian Munoz at the top, with South African Charl Schwartzel and Australian Matt Jones one shot off the lead.
Rickie Fowler struggled to get his game on track after posting a double bogey at his fourth hole and a triple at his sixth and ended the day on four-over-par (74), leaving him with a lot of work to do to make the cut in the final tune-up for next week’s U.S. Open.
The 44-year-old Cink said he was "a little tired" after coming through a sectional qualifier for the second major of the year.
"Takes a little bit longer at 44 to get over those kind of days," the 2009 British Open champion told reporters.
“I did a pretty good job of managing myself out there, not getting too bent out of shape about anything good or bad that happened. And it was a solid day. Every part of the game was pretty solid.”
Co-leader Every was delighted with his performance, a rare bright spot in what has been a terrible run of form.
“I was kind of due for one,” said the two-time PGA Tour winner who has made only two cuts all season and is without a single top-60 finish.
Phil Mickelson, who was wayward off the tee but salvaged a one-under 69, is unlikely to play in the U.S. Open, the only major he has yet to win after six runner-up finishes.
He will attend his daughter’s high school graduation ceremony in California, which is scheduled for next Thursday, barely two hours before his first round tee time at Erin Hills in Wisconsin.
Mickelson's only shot at making it would seem to be a weather delay.
“If there was any kind of delay I’ll have everything ready to go and we’ll hopefully be able to make it but the weather looks pretty nice next week which is great for the tournament,” he added.
Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Peter Rutherford