Burns Leads AT&T Canada Senior Open
WINNIPEG, Manitoba (AP) _ George Burns had a hole-in-one in a 7-under-par 65 Thursday and held a one-stroke lead over three players after the first round of the $1.45 million AT&T Canada Senior Open.
Burns, whose caddie was a local 16-year-old, aced the 174-yard 2nd hole at the St. Charles Country Club with a 6-iron.
Walter Hall, Hugh Baiocchi and Ed Dougherty all had 66s, while Leonard Thompson and Doug Tewell were another stroke back.
Burns had more to say about his caddie than the ace that one-hopped into the cup.
``I putted extremely well today, thanks to the young fellow,″ he said, referring to local caddie Stewart Bannatyne. ``He knows these greens inside and out. The only putt I missed badly was on (the par-4) 16th, and that’s the only one I went against his read.
``This is the best I’ve putted in a long, long time. I can’t really put a finger on why, but I owe a lot to the youngster.″
Burns, a resident of Boynton Beach, Fla., has had limited success on the Senior PGA Tour, partly due to a string of nagging injuries the last few seasons. But some time spent recently on the European Senior Tour has given his confidence a much-needed boost.
``I’m playing a lot more relaxed right now, and that’s probably helped,″ he said. ``I haven’t put any pressure on myself to win overseas. I’ve mostly been concentrating on just healing up my body.″
Burns made the turn at three under after the hole-in-one and a birdie at the par-5 5th. He added birdies on Nos. 12 and 13 before closing out his bogey-free round with a 9-foot birdie putt on 18.
Hall capped his round with a 60-foot chip-in for eagle on the par-5 18th.
Jack Nicklaus, competing in this championship for the first time in five years, had the galleries roaring. The Golden Bear was five under through 16 holes before making a bogey out of a bunker on the par-3 17th. He closed out with a par and had a 68 to finished tied with Tom Wargo, Tom Jenkins, John Bland and John Morgan.
Nicklaus, who had the ball close to the hole all day, felt his score could have easily been much lower.
``I’m leaving my putter at the golf course, because I don’t want to talk to it tonight,″ he joked. ″(My score) certainly could have been better. ... I probably could have been 63 or 64 if I’d have made a few more putts. But everyone wants that. That’s nothing new.
``I’m pretty excited to be right up there (on the leaderboard). I haven’t been to Canada in several years, and this is a new golf course for me. I’ve got some confidence, and hopefully that will allow me to play better as we move through the weekend.″
Baiocchi, even through 11 holes, caught fire with birdies on Nos. 12 and 13, an eagle at 14 and another birdie at 15. He closed out with a birdie on the final hole.
``I wasn’t expecting anything standing on the 12th tee, but I sure got rolling,″ he said. ``My short game got very hot all of a sudden.″