LAKEWAY, Texas (AP) — Bernhard Langer birdied the par-3 18th hole for a 7-under 65 and a one-stroke Friday after the first round of the Triton Financial Classic.
Making his first appearance in the Champions Tour event at The Hills Country Club, the German star already has two victories and seven top-10 finishes this year.
“I’ve been playing very nicely, hitting a lot of greens and fairways and it was really nice today,” Langer said. “I think this is a tough course, a tight course, but it was good for me.”
In Thursday’s pro-am, Langer birdied 12 holes – including the last seven on the back nine. He followed that on a sunny and warm Friday with eight birdies and one bogey, including birdies on 16 and 18.
“It’s been a good year and this just continues it,” he said.
David Eger birdied 17 and 18 for a 66. Michael McCullough followed at 67, and Tom Kite, the area resident still looking for his first tour win in Texas, was another stroke back along with Mark O’Meara, Mark Wiebe, Mark James, Dana Quigley, Jeff Sluman and Larry Mize.
McCullough, winless since 2001, said with no wind and possible 100-degree temperature forecast for the weekend, the leaders will need plenty of birdies to stay on top of the leaderboard.
“You’ll see a lot of low scores, because the pros are too good, the course is set up perfectly and they have too many short irons into the greens.”
Playing in one of the earlier groups, Eger, winless since 2005, was the first to take advantage of the par-72 Jack Nicklaus layout. He birdied Nos. 3, 4, 6 and 8, had his lone bogey on the 12th and closed with two birdies.
“I putted very well today and I managed my game better than I’ve have been doing,” said Eger, a PGA Tour rules official before earning his spot on the Champions Tour in 2001.
Langer parred the par-4 17th after hitting his tee shot in the water. He took a drop in the rough near the water hazard and laced a 3-wood 270 yards to 30 feet of the pin, and made the putt.
“That was a very good shot and then to finish with a birdie was really nice,” he said.
Defending champion Denis Watson shot a 79.