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BC-GLF--PGA Tour Champions,1st Ld-Writethru

March 30, 2019
Kevin Sutherland made a 15-foot birdie putt on the par-4 18th for a 3-under 69 and a three-stroke lead in the PGA Tour Champions’ Rapiscan Systems Classic. Tied for the first-round lead with Marco Dawson after a 65, Sutherland had a 10-under 134 total at Fallen Oak. Dawson was second after a 72 in the windy round.

BILOXI, Miss. (AP) — Kevin Sutherland made a 15-foot birdie putt on the par-4 18th for a 3-under 69 and a three-stroke lead Saturday in the PGA Tour Champions’ Rapiscan Systems Classic.

Tied for the first-round lead with Marco Dawson after a 65, Sutherland had a 10-under 134 total at Fallen Oak. Dawson was second after a 72 in the windy round.

“I was very fortunate to shoot the score I did,” Sutherland said. “I went through some bouts of trying to find my swing a little bit, but I made some good saves and kind of kept the round together and hit a few good shots and made some putts. I didn’t play nearly as well as I did yesterday, but it played a lot harder today than it did yesterday, so I’m pleased.”

The 54-year-old Sutherland rebounded from a bogey on the par-4 second with a birdie on the par-3 third and also birdied the par-3 eighth. He opened the back nine with birdies on the par-4 10th and 11th and bogeyed the par-5 15th.

“It was definitely windier and that was the reason why it played so much more difficult,” Sutherland said. “Downwind it was hard to hold the green and obviously into the wind is difficult.”

Sutherland won the 2017 Charles Schwab Cup Championship for his lone senior title. He’s the only player to shoot 59 in senior tour history, accomplishing the feat the 2014 Dick’s Sporting Goods Open. His only PGA Tour victory came in the 2002 World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship.

“Just keep doing what you’re doing, not really pay attention to what’s going on around you, wait until you get to the back nine to kind of figure out where you’re standing and stuff,” Sutherland said. “Just keep doing what I’m doing. I’m putting the ball well and hopefully I can hit a few better shots tomorrow than I did today.”

Dawson bogeyed two of the first five holes in his even-par round. He won the British Senior Open and Tucson Conquistadores Classic, both in 2015.

Fred Couples and Billy Andrade were 5 under. Preparing for the Masters, the 59-year-old Couples had a triple bogey on the par-4 fifth in a 70.

“I was actually hitting it pretty good and that was just a bad, bad hole,” Couples said. “But I played well and I got it around.”

Andrade had a 68.

“This is a hard golf course,” Andrade said. “You’ve just got to plug away.”

Mike Goodes (68), Duffy Waldorf (69). Tom Byrum (72) and Scott Parel (72) were 4 under.

Vijay Singh (72) and Colin Montgomerie (71) topped the group at 3 under.

Defending champion Steve Stricker was 1 under after a 70. Bernhard Langer also was 1 under, shooting 72.

Gary Nicklaus, the son of 18-time major champion Jack Nicklaus, was tied for 73rd in the 75-player field at 11 over after rounds of 76 and 79. He’s playing on a sponsor exemption.