SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — A pair of Buckeyes were doing their best to hold off a team with five majors between them at the Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf.
John Cook and Joey Sindelar, who have known each other since their college days at Ohio State, carded a better-ball 10-under 62 to tie Mark O’Meara and Nick Price for the lead after the first round Friday.
“We ham-and-egged or hem-and-hawed or whatever you want to call it,” Sindelar said. “But we got it done just right. The pieces fit, so we’re happy with it.”
It was a spectacular shot by Sindelar that set up the team’s final birdie on the island course in the middle of the Savannah River.
“Joey hit one of the prettiest 5-irons you’ve ever seen on No. 18, in there about 2 feet,” Cook said. “Just a shot of the day. That was a moon ball up there. It was a really good shot.”
The O’Meara-Price duo got off to a torrid start. They birdied the first two holes, Price holed a 30-yard bunker shot for eagle at the fourth and a birdie at No. 5 got them to 5-under after five holes.
“Then we went through a little lull,” O’Meara said.
They didn’t make another birdie until the 11th.
“I just was a little frustrated through that lean patch where we couldn’t make a birdie,” said Price, who was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2003. “When you get off to a good start like that, you really want to take advantage of it.”
Fred Couples, easily the hottest player on the Champions Tour with three wins already in his first season on the senior circuit – and the most popular with the fans, teamed with Jay Haas for a 9-under 63. With Couples still able to bomb it off the tee, the team birdied all four par-5s.
“I think 9 under is a good score,” Couples said. “But there’s a couple groups out there with some guys lighting it up. But I think we kept ourselves right in this thing.”
The teams of Tom Watson and Andy North, Craig Stadler and Jeff Sluman, and Sandy Lyle and Peter Senior were another shot back at 8 under.
Ken Green, the sentimental favorite, and partner Mike Reid were 5 under. This was Green’s first start since a tragic accident in June that killed his brother, his longtime girlfriend and his dog. Green’s lower right leg was amputated as a result of the wreck.
Green and Reid played with O’Meara and Price.
“The first four or five holes I think he felt a little nervous, and certainly looked like it,” Price said. “Then he hit a beautiful second shot on the ninth hole, up there about 15 feet, and I think that settled him, because the back nine he played beautifully.
“I think he was probably 2 or 3 under on his own ball on the back.”
NOTES: Senior had the Iceland volcano eruption to thank for his being in the tournament. Lyle was supposed to team with Ian Woosnam in this event. Woosnam, however, was home at Jersey, in the Channel Islands, and couldn’t get to the U.S. because huge ash plume from the eruption disrupted air traffic all across Europe. Senior, meanwhile, was in Orlando, Fla., an easy drive from Savannah.