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Seven Share U.S Amateur Lead

Seven players, including 1991 U.S. Amateur champion Mitch Voges of Simi Valley, Calif., and 1994 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion Tim Jackson of Germantown, Tenn., shot 68s Monday to lead the 1998 U.S. Amateur Championship at Oak Hill Country Club after the first round of stroke play.

Jackson's score of 2-under-par 68 was matched only by Scott McGihon of Bermuda Dunes, Calif., and Patrick Carter of Lesage, W.Va. Those players played Oak Hill's 6,908-yard, par-70 East Course. The other four players tied for the lead shot 1-under-par 68s on the 6,574-yard, par-69 West Course.

The remaining players tied for the lead include: Jesse Hibler of Boise, Idaho; Hank Kuehne of McKinney, Texas; and Mark Northey of Roswell, Ga.

Eleven players, including 1988 Mid-Amateur champion David Eger, finished with 69s. Defending champion Matt Kuchar and 1997 U.S. Amateur runner-up Joel Kribel lead a host of players at 70.

"I think I got lucky today, because I went off early," said Jackson, referring to the weather problems that marred the first round. "The golf course was pretty soft, and I could pretty much pick a distance and hit it. The wind picked up about halfway through my round, and I just held on for the last 10 or 11 holes."

"The wind was swirling," said Kuchar, who had trouble with the weather as well. "I kept all my notes and yardages from my practice rounds, and it was all worthless today. It's days like today I wish I had an exemption straight into match play."

Today was special for Erik Compton, 18, of Miami, Fla., who finished the first round with a 1-over-par 70. He was the recipient of a heart transplant six years ago at the age of 12 and wanted to have a good day today, not only for himself, but for his donor as well.

"Today meant a lot for me," said Compton, who is a freshman at the University of Georgia. "I played well, and that is the whole purpose of being here. But I also wanted to enjoy the moment for both of us. I wanted to be noticed as a golfer as well as for having a heart transplant, and this is the best golf experience I've had in a long time."

After the second round of stroke play Tuesday, the field will be cut to low 64 scorers who will advance to match play. The 36-hole final match is scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 30.

The U.S. Amateur Championship is one of 13 national championships conducted annually by the United States Golf Association. Ten of those championships are conducted strictly for amateurs.