BC-GLF--PGA Tour Champions,1st Ld-Writethru
BILOXI, Miss. (AP) — Kevin Sutherland and Marco Dawson each shot 7-under 65 on Friday at Fallen Oak to share the first-round lead in the PGA Tour Champions’ Rapiscan Systems Classic.
Sutherland eagled the par-5 sixth hole.
“I hit a good drive there and it was playing straight downwind so I only had a 6-iron to the green,” Sutherland said. “I hit exactly where I wanted to, just kind of took the slope down to the hole about four feet and made that putt. Made a bunch of other putts today. It was nice to roll the ball well and hit good shots.”
He dropped into a tie for the lead with a bogey on the par-3 17th.
“I hit a really poor tee shot and actually made a really good two-putt from very far from the hole just to make bogey,” Sutherland said.
He won the 2017 Charles Schwab Cup Championship for his lone senior title.
Dawson birdied five of the first seven holes.
“I’ve struggled on the greens with the speed,” Dawson said. “This year, I made a point to try and just hit a bunch of long putts. Practiced my putting, trying to get the speed right, and my speed was terrific. I made more putts today than I have in any round in the last three years.”
He won the British Senior Open and Tucson Conquistadores Classic, both in 2015.
Jeff Sluman, Tom Byrum, Scott Parel and Tommy Armour III were tied for third at 68.
Fred Couples and Vijay Singhtopped the group at 69. They are preparing for the Masters.
“I felt like I judged the greens pretty well,” Couples said. “They’re really, really nice. They’re very fast. I’m happy they’re like that because Augusta’s in a couple weeks and they’re not far from Augusta pace.”
Bernhard Langer and John Daly each shot 71.
Defending champion Steve Stricker bogeyed the 18th for a 73.
Gary Nicklaus, the son of 18-time major champion Jack Nicklaus, opened with a 76. He’s playing on a sponsor exemption.