Johnson-Faxon tied for CVS Charity lead


BARRINGTON, R.I. – Masters champion Zach Johnson rolled in a 15-foot birdie putt on the final hole Monday, moving him and playing partner Brad Faxon into a first-place tie with J.J. Henry and Stewart Cink after the first round of the 36-hole CVS Caremark Charity Classic.

Johnson and Faxon combined for an 11-under 60 in the 10-team, best-ball tournament.

“I haven’t seen the course and I didn’t get a lot of chances to putt, so I certainly relied on Brad for the reads,’’ Johnson said, playing on Faxon’s home course for the first time. “Clearly, he knows which way the ball is breaking. He more or less reaffirmed my read on that one and I managed to make it.’’

Faxon-Johnson and Henry-Cink are one stroke in front of the team of Chris DiMarco and Carmelo Villegas that shot a 10-under 61 at the Rhode Island Country Club.

LPGA Hall of Famer Juli Inkster and Natalie Gulbis formed the first women’s team in tournament history. They posted a 5-under 66, six strokes off the lead.

“Natalie played well, she made three or four birdies,’’ said Inkster, who has 31 LPGA Tour victories. “I only made one, so I need more putts to drop. But something like this isn’t about winning or losing. It’s about showcasing golf.’’

Faxon, a Barrington native who founded the tournament in 1999 along with fellow Rhode Islander Billy Andrade, accounted for the first-round’s lone eagle, on the par-5, 516-yard eighth hole. Faxon is in position to win the tournament for the first time.

Henry, who finished 20 over at last weekend’s U.S. Open, made 10 of his team’s 11 birdies on his own ball.

“I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time,’’ said Henry, a Fairfield, Conn., native making his first appearance in the tournament. “It was a great day after playing in difficult conditions in the U.S. Open. To be able to come here and feel like you can relax made it easier to play well.’’

Gulbis, who turned pro in 2001, said playing in a field of PGA Tour pros and PGA Seniors, was a beneficial experience.

“When you’re playing with the PGA Tour players, you learn a lot from watching them,’’ she said.

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