Tom Kite, who has a one-shot lead over Lance Ten Broeck and Bernhard Langer, fired a 28 on the front nine in Thursday’s opening round of the U.S. Senior Open to match the lowest nine-hole score of his career.
LAKE ORION, Mich. — Tom Kite set a U.S. Senior Open record with a 28 on the front nine at Indianwood and finished a 5-under 65 on Thursday.
Corey Pavin’s sixth birdie on his 17th hole pulled him into a tie atop the leaderboard, but a penalty pushed him back to the pack after completing his first round.
Pavin hit a chip after his ball moved back a fraction of an inch when he grounded his club on his 14th hole and that later cost him two strokes.
“Yeah, I agree,” he said after watching slow-motion replays of the infraction with officials in a TV trailer.
That setback put Bernhard Langer and Lance Ten Broeck in second place, one shot behind Kite. It pushed Pavin into a five-way tie for fourth with Fred Funk, Jeff Sluman, Tom Pernice Jr. and Mikael Hogberg at 3-under 67.
“Still a very good score,” Pavin said. “I just like the way I played. That’s the important thing now. There’s three more rounds and lots of time to make it up and lots of golf left.”
Kite, who matched the lowest nine-hole score of his career on the front nine, is confident his window to win on the Champions Tour hasn’t closed.
The 62-year-old Kite expects players like him to have success more than a decade into their career on the 50-and-over circuit because they’re staying in shape and relentlessly working on their game.
“You probably haven’t read, but 60 is the new 40,” Kite said.
Kite, whose season-best finish was a tie for second four months ago at the Toshiba Classic, hasn’t won on the Champions Tour since 2008.
He put himself in a position to end the drought on the front nine with an eagle from 155 yards at the 424-yard, par-4 No. 4 with a blind shot over a hill.
“The gallery let me know it went in the hole,” Kite said. “So it must have run out nicely out of that semi-rough.”
Kite also had five birdies before making the turn, leaving his playing partners — Peter Jacobsen and Scott Simpson — to marvel at his seven-under front nine.
“I felt like the Washington Generals playing against the Harlem Globetrotters out there,” Jacobsen said. “He didn’t miss a shot on the front nine.”
Simpson said Kite played textbook golf to have his way with a course with tight fairways, thick rough and quick greens the USGA set up to be the hardest on the Champions Tour this year.
“I certainly didn’t think there was a 28 out there,” Simpson said.
Jacobsen, though, saw a breakout round coming from Kite after giving him lessons of sorts with Olin Browne recently at Pebble Beach.
“We gave him a couple ideas, and they worked last week and they obviously were still working,” Jacobsen said. “We all know each other’s games and each other’s swings, so we can tell when something is a little off and help each other out.”
Kite had the best nine-hole score in a USGA championship. There were seven 29s, including three at the U.S. Open, most recently by Vijay Singh in 2003. Olin Browne had the previous U.S. Senior Open record, shooting a 29 on the back nine in the third round last year at Inverness.
Matteson shoots 61 to lead at John Deere Classic
SILVIS, Ill. — Troy Matteson scored 10 birdies Thursday en route to a bogey-free round of 10-under 61 for a three-stroke stroke lead after one round of the John Deere Classic.
Matteson, a two-time winner on the PGA Tour, birdied five holes on each nine of the TPC Deere Run to surpass the 7-under 64 of second place Ricky Barnes. Matteson started by making birdies on three of his first four holes and finished with birdies on four of his first five.
He nearly holed out from a bunker on the par-4 ninth for a 60, but settled for par.
Barnes, out in the second group of the day, birdied all three par-5s and two of the four par-3s to pace the morning half of the field.
Robert Garrigus, among a group tied for third at 6-under 65, eagled the par-5 17th by hooking a 270-yard second shot around a tree to set up a 30-foot eagle putt.
Steve Stricker, chasing a fourth straight victory in the Deere, shot a 65 punctuated by an 80-yard wedge for an eagle 2 on the par-4 14th.
Zach Johnson, the highest ranked player in the tournament at sixth in the PGA Tour point standings, shot 3-under 68 thanks to a 4-under 31 on his last nine holes.
Low scores are common in the Deere. TPC Deere Run has yielded at least one 62 or better since 2008, including a first-round 59 by Paul Goydos two years ago. Friday, the field averaged about 69.6 strokes per player.
Only 46 players finished over par. Matteson’s had an average year to this point, missing the cut in 11 of 21 tournaments, including his first five starts. His best finish is a tie for 26th at the Honda Classic. But he lowered his best score for the year, a 65 at the Humana Classic, by four strokes in taking the lead. It’s his best start in any Tour tournament.
It was only the third time this year he’s broken 70 in the first round.
“I’ve always been one of the slow-starting Thursday players,” Matteson said. “If I could do one thing differently in my entire career, it would be to be a faster starter.”
Matteson rolled in 31- and nine-footers for birdies on his first two holes, then ran a birdie attempt on his third hole over the edge of the hole, settling for a tap-in par. A 20-footer for a birdie 3 opened his back nine, which was spiced by a near-eagle on the par-4 fifth, his 14th hole. His birdie putt was 10 inches.
Matteson scored back-to-back 61s en route to winning the Frys.com Open in 2009.
Barnes is 89th in the point standings and 101st on the money list, but birdied three of his first five holes.
His card was marred only by a bogey on the par-4 ninth when he failed to get up and down from the rough. He considered it only a start.
“You’ll have to be in the 20s (under par) to have a chance to win,” Barnes said. “At most tournaments, when you’re 4-under through eight holes, you’re in the lead or tied. Here, you have to keep up that kind of pace.”
Stricker’s eagle from the 14th fairway accelerated his back nine of 6-under 30. He played the front nine in even par 35 before a 10-foot birdie putt on the par-5 10th hole began his run toward the leaders.
He birdied the 15th and 17th holes to jump into a tie for third with six other players, including Garrigus and Luke Guthrie, the recent Illinois graduate playing in his second tournament as a professional.
Guthrie earned $67,872 by tying for 19th in his first Tour start, at the St. Jude Classic in Memphis, Tenn.. His bogey-free 65, which featured a 64-foot eagle putt on the par-5 second hole, was his fourth round under par in five as a pro.