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Wilson, Gallagher, Pavin Share First-Round Lead

April 4, 1996

MARIETTA, Ga. (AP) _ Corey Pavin, seeking his first victory since last year’s U.S. Open, shot a 6-under-par 66 to share the first-round lead in the BellSouth Classic with Jim Gallagher and John Wilson on Thursday.

``The key to me probably was just hanging in there at the start,″ Pavin said. ``I didn’t get off to a great start, but I got up and down a few times and just kind of hung in there and things started to fall into place.″

The trio held a one-shot lead over Russ Cochran and Neal Lancaster in the best field the Atlanta event has had in over 20 years. It was moved back from its usual May start to the week before the season’s first major championship _ the Masters.

Both Pavin and Gallagher are headed for Augusta National next week, but Wilson won’t be competing unless he manages a victory.

``That’s the farthest thing from my mind,″ Wilson said. ``We’ve still got three more days to play.″

Besides, Wilson said, ``I’ve been on the road five weeks. I’m ready to see home.″

He said he’d be willing to spend one more week on the road if he were able to claim the first victory of his career.

Pavin, who started on the back nine of the 7,018-yard Atlanta Country Club course, got his first birdie with a 12-foot putt on the 15th. He then birdied the 17th and 18th, picked up another shot with a 12-footer on No. 3 and took his only bogey on the sixth when he missed a 4-foot putt. He closed the round with three birdies in a row from 12, 4 and 4 feet.

Gallagher’s round started with a bogey following a poor chip on the first hole and ended with an eagle-3 on the 499-yard 18th when he holed a 28-foot putt. He also scored from 25 feet on the sixth and got his other birdies with putts of 15 feet at No. 10 and 10 feet at No. 14.

``I putted real well,″ he said. ``That saved the day for me. I want to get playing the way I’m capable of playing.″

Wilson, who has two top 10 finishes this year, birdied three of four holes in a stretch starting on No. 4, lipping out a birdie putt on the seventh. He made 25-foot birdies on Nos. 10 and 12 and scored against from six feet on No. 14.

Five others were two strokes off the pace at 68 _ David Duval, Michael Bradley, Nick Price, defending champion Mark Calcavecchia and Paul Stankowski.

Fred Couples, who won The Players Championship last week, was in a group at 71 with Scotland’s Colin Montgomerie, British Open champion John Daly and Davis Love. Tom Kite shot 70.

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