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Yokoo Takes Lead in Dunlop Phoenix

November 18, 1999

MIYAZAKI, Japan (AP) _ Young Japanese Kaname Yokoo shot a 6-under-par 65 for a two-stroke over Greg Norman and three others Thursday in the opening round of the $1.9 Dunlop Phoenix golf tournament.

The 27-year-old Yokoo, seeking his second victory this season and third in his career, carded six birdies on the 6,856-yard Phoenix Country Club course.

``The last two years, I’ve started this tournament well but faded,″ said Yokoo, who won the Tokai Classic last month. ``Hopefully, I can keep going his time.″

Norman, recovering from a shoulder injury, finished his round with birdies on the last three holes. He was tied with fellow Australian Mathew Goggin Japanese players Hidemichi Tanaka and Hiroyuki Fujita.

It was Norman’s first event since his surgeon gave him permission to resume full-scale practice recently. He had been restricted in the number of balls he could hit because of shoulder surgery 19 months ago.

``Now my shoulder’s great, I can really go at it,″ he said. ``I can see a difference already. I feel more of a wave of confidence coming through my game.″

Norman wasn’t happy on the first hole, where a Japanese spectator yelled out, ``You the man″ just as the player was hitting his tee shot.

``You don’t expect that here,″ said Norman, whose drive sailed into the pines, leading to a bogey. ``Maybe in New York, Chicago or L.A., but not here.″

At 68 was Spanish teen-age sensation Sergio Garcia. He was tied with Hisayuki Sasaki of Japan.

``I had difficulty putting last week, but I’m all right this week,″ said Garcia, who finished 55th in the Sumitomo VISA Taihei Masters, his first appearance in Japan.

Defending champion Lee Westwood of England opened the chase for a $381,000 winner’s share with a 71.

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