Endicott, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Charles Schwab Cup leader Kenny Perry birdied three of the last four holes, including a 15-foot downhill birdie putt on No. 18 to shoot 7-under-par 65 and seize sole possession of the first-round lead at the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open.
Perry’s late run moved him out of a tie with brothers Bart and Brad Bryant and Joel Edwards who all carded 6-under 66s. Perry entered this year’s Dick’s event having finished among the top seven in four straight events, including back-to-back victories at the Constellation SENIOR PLAYERS Championship and U.S. Senior Open. Edwards, a runner-up finisher at the 1992 B.C. Open on the PGA TOUR birdied the last two holes to join Bart Bryant who was making his first appearance at En-Joie Golf Club as a member of the Champions Tour. Bryant’s older brother, Brad, has played sparingly on the 2013 Champions Tour due to foot problems and his 6-under round was his lowest score among his 10 official starts in stroke-play event this season.
Perry’s 65 today marks the fourth straight year that the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open first-round leader/co-leaders have posted the 7-under score.
In the previous six Dick’s Sporting Goods Opens, just one first-round leader/co-leader has gone on to win the tournament and that was Friday co-leader John Huston in 2011. No winner of this event has ever come from further back than three strokes (2010/Loren Roberts) or the T11 position (2007/R.W. Eaks) after play on Friday.
Thus far in 2013, five of the previous 16 events have been won by first-round leaders. The last time it happened was at the U.S. Senior Open last month when Kenny Perry shared the opening-round lead at Omaha Country Club and went on to win by five strokes.
Corey Pavin has finished among the top-3 in his last three appearances on the Champions Tour, including a T2 at the recent 3M Championship. Pavin got off to another good start today at the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open, carding a 4-under 68. He’s now carded six straight scores in the 60s dating back to 69 on Saturday at the Senior British Open and is a cumulative 26 under during this stretch.
In his first start at En-Joie Golf Club since the 1984 B.C. Open, World Golf Hall of Fame member Larry Nelson, 65, carded a 4-under 68. It was Nelson’s best opening round in a Champions Tour event since he posted 66 more than a year ago in Round 1 of the 2012 Principal Charity Classic.
Defending champion Willie Wood opened with 5-over 77/(T75). Both John Huston (2011) and Loren Roberts (2010), the only other former Dick’s Sporting Goods Open winners in the field, shot 2-under 70s and are T20 after Friday play.
Today’s first-round stroke average was 71.513 compared to 71.050 for Round 1 last year. The par-4 15th hole played as the most difficult (4.388), yielding just four birdies (Perry, Zoeller, Pernice, Jr.,Byrum). The par-5 3rd hole (4.688) played as the easiest (4.688), yielding 26 birdies and an eagle.
Tom Kite made his 1,041st combined-career TOUR start (328thon Champions Tour) and moved into a tie with Jim Colbert for eighth place on the all-time combined list…Bob Gilder’s 992nd combined career start today moved him out of tie with Tommy Aaron into solo 17thplace on the all-time combined career list.
Five players had bogey-free rounds today – Bart Bryant (66), Joel Edwards (66), Rick Fehr (66), Esteban Toledo (66) and Joe Daley (68)…Jim Gallagher, Jr.’s 323-yard drive at the 12th hole was the longest measured drive of the day…Five players hit 12 of 14 fairways – Rick Fehr, Wayne Levi, Larry Nelson, Scott Simpson and Fuzzy Zoeller…Esteban Toledo missed just one green in regulation (94.44%)…Jeff Hart needed just 25 putts on Friday, the fewest by a player in the field.