RENO - Vaughn Taylor said that he had good feelings and memories as he walked around the Montreux Golf & Country Club, the site of his first-ever PGA Tour win last year.
Taylor turned those good vibrations into a first-round 64 and the early lead at the 7th annual Reno-Tahoe Open Thursday afternoon.
Taylor's round included 10 birdies and two bogeys, and was one stroke off the record held by Kirk Triplett (2003). Notah Begay III and Brian Henninger shot 63s before Montreux changed to its present configuration.
Taylor holds a one-stroke lead over Fredrik Jacobson and Todd Fischer, both of whom shot 7-under 65s. Guy Boros is fourth at 66 followed by Aaron Baddeley, Jesper Parnevik and Duffy Waldorf at 67. Todd Hamilton, the 2004 British Open winner is at 68 along with Craig Barlow. There is an 11-way tie for 10th place at 69, including Paul Azinger, Ben Curtis, Joe Ogilvie, Kevin Na and Matt Kuchar.
The 7,472-yard layout produced 20 rounds below 70 and 50 golfers broke par. Sixty-three golfers are currently at par or better.
"I played extremely well," said Taylor, who tied for 28th at last week's PGA Championship with a 4-over-par 284. "The greens are perfect. I was definitely rolling the ball well.
"Last year at this time I didn't know what to expect. This year has definitely been different. I feel like I've been playing pretty well lately. I haven't been scoring real well, and last week I kind of caught on to something."
Taylor, who needed to win last year to keep his playing card, is currently in 86th place entering the RTO. He's made the cut 11 of 23 attempts. He finished fifth at the Wachovia Championship with a 6-under 282. His other top-10 was the season-opening Mercedes Championship when he tied for eighth with a 16-under-par 276.
"I've been a little up and down," said Taylor, who has won $664,228. "I'm trying to get a little more consistent. I feel like I'm better than last year.
"I feel like my swing has gotten better. I've just learned a lot more about course management, temperament and things of that nature."
There wasn't much reason for Taylor to get upset Thursday.
The defending champion opened with birdies on three of the first four holes thanks to some sensational approach shots. On the 413-yard par-4 first hole, he lofted a wedge to within 2 feet and drained the ensuing putt. On the par-4 429-yard third hole, he hit a wedge to 4 feet and sank the putt. On No. 4, a 518-yard par-5, he chipped his third shot to within 1 foot.
Taylor bogeyed No. 6, a 439-yard par-4, dropping him back to 2-under par.
"I had a horrible lie (in the right rough)," said Taylor, who hit 11 of 14 fairways and reached 14 of 18 greens in regulation. "I was just trying to get it to the front of the green and I hit it right and caught some tree limbs and put it in the bunker. Then I blasted it out short of the green."
Taylor finished his 4-under-par front side with a 4-foot birdie putt on the 464-yard eighth hole, and two-putted from 15 feet for a birdie on the 616-yard par-5.
He birdied No. 11 to go 5-under, but gave back a shot on the par-3 12th when he missed the green with a 7-iron and couldn't get it up and down. He finished strong with birdies on 13, 15, 17 and 18. The only birdie putt more than 8 feet was on 15 when he snaked in a 35-footer.
Jacobson, who started on No. 10, appeared well on his way to tying or breaking the course record himself. Not bad for the first time at Montreux. He produced eight birdies thanks to some awesome approach shots. He only had two birdies over 17 feet, and most were in the 5 to 7-foot range.
"You can't ask for much more in the first round when you're playing a course in competition," Jacobson said in the interview room. "When I came here it felt a lot like coming to Switzerland and Europe, which is one of the places that I've always enjoyed to go. The fresh air in the morning and nice scenery. I enjoyed it.
"We somehow managed to get the right distances on a lot of the wedge shots and a lot of the iron shots. Off the tee, I'm not crushing it at the moment but managed to keep it in play and hit it straight. We did a lot of good work from there once we were in position."
Jacobson started his round on No. 10, a 494-yard par-4. He hit a 54-degree wedge to 17 feet and drained the putt. On the 355-yard par-4 13th, he hit another 54-degree wedge to 3 feet and made the putt. After a par on No. 14, Jacobson hit a 6-iron to the 15th green and hit his longest putt of the day, a 31-footer. On No. 16, Jacobson hit a 7-iron to 20 feet and banged home another putt. He finished his five-birdie front with a 5-foot putt on No. 18.
Jacobson reached 8-under with birdies at 1, 2 and 5. He dropped to 7-under when he bogeyed the 464-yard eighth hole when he hit his third shot in the bunker.
Fischer, who recently moved to Reno, had it going at 3-under through eight holes, but dumped a shot in the water at No. 9 and made bogey, dropping him to 2-under 34 at the turn.
"It was borderline reaching the green anyway," Fischer said. "I figured if I kept the ball left I could get up and down for a birdie. I pushed it right, and that's one of those hitches in the swing where I haven't been hitting it too far off line. I walked a way a little angry."
Fischer opened the back side with four straight birdies. On No. 10, he hit an 8-iron to 6 feet and drained the putt. On the par-5 11th, his third shot barely reached the front of the green and sank a 20-footer. On the par-3 186-yard 12th, he hit a 7-iron pin high and knocked in the 18-footer. On the 355-yard par-4 13th, Fischer lofted a sand wedge and hit a 3-footer for birdie to go 6-under.
Fischer got it to 7-under on 15 with a 33-foot birdie putt after a 4-iron approach shot. He gave the shot right back when he overshot the par-3 17th by 20 yards and took three to get down from there.
"I started out today not hitting it spectacularly," Fischer said. "I stayed patient, rolled some putts in and got up and down in spots where I missed the green. I had good momentum through most of the day."
Fischer obviously would like nothing more than to win in his new hometown.
"Oh it would be great," he said. "A win is a win, but I have so many people I've met here, and I have such great support from them. It would be very good to win in this area."
Darrell Moody can be reached at email@example.com, or by calling (775) 881-1214.