RIDGEDALE, Mo. (AP)Tom Lehman had four birdies in a late five-hole stretch for a 7-under 64 and a share of the first-round lead with Shane Bertsch on Wednesday in the Charles Schwab Series at Bass Pro Shops Big Cedar Lodge.
Coming off a 43rd-place tie at 13 over last week at difficult Firestone in the Senior Players Championship, the 61-year-old Lehman birdied Nos. 4, 5, 6 and 8 and closed with a par at Buffalo Ridge in the first of two 54-hole events at Big Cedar Lodge.
”I didn’t necessarily hit the ball that well to start, but I did roll the ball extremely well,” Lehman said. ”It’s a three-round tournament and it’s a good start, so I feel after last week and that kind of debacle at Firestone for a lot of us, that was such a difficult golf course, this was a better.”
Lehman won the Mitsubishi Electric Championship last year in Hawaii for his 12th senior title. The 61-year-old Minnesotan won five times on the PGA Tour, including the 1995 British Open. He had a bogey-free round Wednesday.
”I think as a golfer, you realize that the good rounds come when you make few to no mistakes,” Lehman said. ”So bogey-free or one bogey, those are the rounds you’re looking for. You don’t do it that often.”
The 50-year-old Bertsch is making his second senior start. He also was bogey-free.
”Just glad to be playing,” Bertsch said ”I played really good, I really played solid, found a few things yesterday. I had been working with my coach last week and struggling a little bit to get comfortable over the ball, but I found some things late yesterday afternoon that carried over and I hit a lot of good shots and made some putts.”
Darren Clarke, Tim Petrovic and Wes Short Jr. shot 66.
Steve Stricker closed with a birdie on the par-5 18th for a 67.
”I played solid, no bogeys today, so anytime you can go around and do that at any course is a good day,” Stricker said. ”Let a couple opportunities slip by, but for the most part played nicely, played solidly and good start.”
Vijay Singh and Brett Quigley also shot 67.
”All in all, I’m quite satisfied,” Singh said. ”I haven’t had a good first round for a while, so this is a good first round and then build up from there.”
Bernhard Langer, Ernie Els, Colin Montgomerie and K.J. Choi also shot 68. Fred Couples was another stroke back with Charles Schwab Cup leader Scott Parel. Jerry Kelly, the winner at Firestone for his first major title, opened with a 70.