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The Associated Press | July 11, 2013 11:40 PM EST | AP


SILVIS, Ill. — It took years for Zach Johnson to feel comfortable at his hometown tournament.

These days, Johnson is more relaxed than anyone in the field – and that's a major reason why he's in early position to repeat as the champion of the John Deere Classic.

Johnson shot a 7-under 64 and is tied with Camilo Villegas for the lead after Thursday's opening round of the John Deere Classic.

It was the 17th straight round in the 60s at TPC Deere Run for Johnson, who grew up roughly 100 miles away in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Matt Bettencourt made the field as a late alternate and shot a 6-under 65. He's tied for second with Daniel Summerhays and Brendon de Jonge.

Boo Weekley is among a host of players at 5-under 66, while three-time tournament champion Steve Stricker is at 4-under 67 heading into Friday's second round.

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LPGA TOUR

WATERLOO, Ontario (AP) – Angela Stanford and Catriona Matthew shot eight-under 63s to share the first-round lead at the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic, two strokes ahead of top-ranked Inbee Park.

Park is trying to become the first golfer to win four straight LPGA Tour events since Lorena Ochoa in 2008.

Park was joined by American Irene Cho, Spain's Belen Mozo and South Korea's Hee Young Park and Meena Lee at 65. American Ryann O'Toole and South Koreans Jenny Shin, Amy Yang and Ji Young Oh were three shots off the lead at 66.

Defending champion Brittany Lang opened with a 69.

Stanford closed her late-evening round with three straight birdies to join Matthew atop the leaderboard under mostly sunny skies at Grey Silo Golf Course

Players took advantage of soft conditions early in the day on the 6,330-yard course. Aggressive approach shots were rewarded before the greens started to dry up in the afternoon.

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U.S. SENIOR OPEN

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) – It's never been so crowded at the top of the U.S. Senior Open leaderboard.

When Tom Lehman chipped in from 45 feet on the 18th hole, he joined six others at 3-under 67 for the first round at the Omaha Country Club.

There had never been as many as seven co-leaders after the opening round of the event. The previous record was five in 1997.

Kenny Perry shot a 67 in the morning, putting together a solid start in his bid for a second straight win in a senior major. Michael Allen and Jay Don Blake also were 3 under after their morning rounds, and Gary Hallberg, Mark O'Meara, Fred Funk and Lehman came in with the same score in the afternoon.

The hilly 6,700-yard course took a toll on the field of golfers age 50 and older, especially in the afternoon as temperatures reached the upper 80s with a light breeze. The small and undulating greens browned up in the heat and proved dicey.

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EUROPEAN TOUR

INVERNESS, Scotland (AP) – Phil Mickelson eased back into links golf with a 6-under 66 at the Scottish Open, leaving him behind two Englishman after a low-scoring first round.

John Parry, ranked No. 471, held the clubhouse lead after a bogey-free 64 and Simon Khan (65) also tamed the Castle Stuart course in perfect morning conditions in the Scottish Highlands to finish alone in second.

Mickelson is tied for third with six others after quickly hitting his stride in the warm-up event for next week's British Open, finding his range on and around the greens to produce six birdies and an eagle.

Twenty-one years into a trophy-laden professional career, the four-time major winner insists there is still time for him to "conquer links golf."

And his stylish opening round suggested a first win in Europe since 1993 could come either here or a few hours south in Muirfield next week.