March 6 (Reuters) - Brian Stuard made a hot start with four birdies in six holes on his way to a one-stroke lead after the first round of the $3.5 million Puerto Rico Open on Thursday.
Stuard, in his third season on the PGA Tour, continued his recent good form with a six-under-par 66 on the Trump International course at Rio Grande.
Fellow American Jason Gore and New Zealander Danny Lee shot 67 on day when nearly half the 132-man field broke par in a testing breeze at the layout.
“I got off to a good start, which was nice, and then kind of didn’t play quite as well on the back,” Stuard told reporters. “I kept it in play nice off the tee, didn’t get in much trouble and only made one bogey.”
The 31-year-old from Michigan, 13th in the FedEx standings, has already posted three-top 10s on tour this season, including a runner-up finish at the Mayakoba Classic in Mexico.
Gore, meanwhile, was rarely in trouble in a bogey-free round, while Lee had one bogey.
Both players are trying to kickstart their careers.
Gore was in second place going into the final round at the 2005 U.S. Open but shot a closing 84, and he has not had a top-10 finish on tour since 2009.
Lee, 23, won the 2008 U.S. Amateur Championship at the age of 18. He subsequently beat a world class field of professionals to win the 2009 Johnnie Walker Classic in Australia while still an amateur, but his professional career has not taken off.
The Puerto Rico Open field is comprised of players who did qualify for the WGC-Cadillac Championship in Miami. (Reporting By Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Peter Rutherford)