PALM COAST, Fla. (AP) — Brad Bryant had an eagle and four birdies during a six-hole stretch Friday to earn a share of the first-round lead with Keith Fergus in the Champions Tour’s Ginn Championship.
Bryant, who began his round at No. 10, was 6-under at one point and finished with a 5-under 67 in windy conditions at the Ocean Club at Hammock Beach course bordering the Atlantic Ocean. Fergus was one of three players who didn’t bogey a hole, and highlighted his round with a 14-foot putt for eagle at the par-5 10th.
Raymond Floyd, a four-time major champion, flirted with shooting his age of 64 before settling for a 68 to tie Des Smyth, R.W. Eaks and Joe Ozaki. It was Floyd’s best opening round on the Champions Tour this season.
Floyd hit 14 greens and reached the green in two shots on two par-5 holes. He last won on the Champions Tour at the 2000 Senior Players Championship, but said winning a tournament is not foremost on his mind.
“At this stage of my career, I don’t come to golf tournaments any longer with the thought of winning,” he said. “I’m playing. I think it’s good for the (Champions) Tour and I’m trying to contribute.”
Floyd birdied three of his first six holes, and then birdied his first three on the front nine. After a bogey, he birdied Nos. 14 and 16 to tie Bryant for the lead, before bogeying his last two holes.
“This was a Raymond Floyd kind of day,” Bryant said of Floyd’s history of playing well in adverse conditions. “He has such great feel and such a great short game.”
Past Masters champions, Mark O’Meara, Craig Stadler and Ben Crenshaw, three-time U.S. Open champion Hale Irwin and Tom Purtzer, who won on the Champions Tour two weeks ago, led a large group at 3-under.
Bryant started 475 PGA Tour events before recording his only victory at the 1995 Disney World Classic. He’s proven to be a quicker study on the Champions Tour, winning twice last year in his second season and finishing third on the money list.
Fergus, a three-time winner on the PGA Tour, is seeking his first Champions Tour victory after 71 career starts.