- Associated Press - Thursday, March 24, 2016

RIO GRANDE, Puerto Rico (AP) - Rafael Compos shot an 8-under 64 in front of his home fans Thursday to take the first-round lead in the PGA Tour’s Puerto Rico Open.

The 27-year-old Compos had eight birdies in a bogey-free round at windy Coco Beach. He made four straight birdies on Nos. 9-12, added another on the par-5 15th and parred the final three holes.

“I hit the ball very well. I kept the ball in play, which was the main goal today,” Compos said. “The truth is, I felt very comfortable. I had a great crowd - family, friends and all that - which helped me ease my way into the round. It was kind of easy, believe it or not. I know it was windy. I played really safe on the holes I had to play safe.”

He’s the first Puerto Rican to lead a PGA Tour event since the 1979 Tallahassee Open, when Chi Chi Rodriguez was tied for the 54-hole lead and went on to win his eighth and final title.

George McNeill, the 2012 winner, was a stroke back. He had six birdies in a seven-hole stretch and closed with a bogey on the par-4 ninth.

“I was hitting it really nice and I felt good about the way I was swinging it,” McNeill said. “For some reason, I figured something out today. Whether it continues on, we’ll see. It feels like something I can hopefully work with for at least the remainder of the week.”

Compos and Dicky Pride are the only players to play in all nine editions of the event.

“I do rely on the info I’ve had in the past years,” Compos said. “Nine years, that’s a lot. Actually, goes by very fast. I don’t feel it’s been nine years, that’s for sure. But I do rely a lot on the information I have. I still have the same yardage book.”

He was trying to avoid distractions.

“I’m not turning my cellphone on today,” Compos said. “I really don’t want to look at my cellphone. I told my caddie, ‘We played good today, but I don’t want to put any more pressure on me than I already have.’ I want to perform good in front of the home crowd.”

Defending champion Alex Cejka was at 66 along with Aaron Baddeley, Frank Lickliter and Will MacKenzie.

“It was windy even in the beginning,” Cejka said. “The course is playing tricky.”

Baddeley eagled the 15th and closed with two birdies.

“I feel like I only really hit like two poor shots,” Baddeley said. “It’s not easy in this wind, just got to be patient out here and that’s what I was just trying to do. To have a fast finish like that was pretty exciting.”

English stars Luke Donald and Ian Poulter are playing after failing to qualify for the Match Play event in Texas. Donald opened with a 69, and Poulter shot 71. Poulter is the highest-ranked player in the field at No. 67 in the world.

“I hit a lot of fairways, a lot of greens,” Donald said. “Would have liked to have finished a little stronger, missed a couple putts coming in, but otherwise I feel like I’m swinging well and giving myself lots of good chances.”

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