MILWAUKEE (AP) — Richard S. Johnson aced the 14th hole on his way to shooting a 63 that gave him a one stroke lead over the Pappas brothers after the first round of the U.S. Bank Championship on Thursday.
Deane and Brenden Pappas could have become the first brothers to share the lead at a PGA event, but Johnson birdied from about 10 feet on the 18th hole to edge ahead.
“It was a nice putt to roll in there,” Johnson said. “It probably killed the record for the Pappas brothers.”
Robert Garrigus, Dean Wilson and Patrick Sheehan were another shot behind. Defending champion Joe Ogilvie and Jesper Parnevik were in a group of ten tied at 66.
Johnson’s hole-in-one with a 7-iron was the 18th this year on the PGA tour but the first on the Brown Deer Park Golf Course since Tiger Woods did it in 1996.
“I had no idea. Wow!” Johnson said. “Yeah, it’s always nice to follow him in something.”
The ace followed three straight birdies. He had a bogey two holes later, but sank a putt of just under 10 feet on the par-5 18th to regain the lead.
Kenny Perry, who won the tournament in 2003, shot 67.
Nobody was happier to be playing than Perry, who could finally get away from the criticism that’s come his way because he decided to play in this tournament instead of the British Open.
“It’s nice to get back in my office. It’s nice to get back where I don’t have to listen to all that baloney,” said Perry, who has won three of the last five tournaments he started including last week’s John Deere Classic.
Johnson has struggled this season and was only 2-under at the turn. But on the back nine he birdied 11 through 13, starting with a 15-footer.
“All of a sudden one went in,” he said. “It’s all about momentum. If you get a little confidence going, the hole gets bigger.”
He hit fine approach shots to set up birdie putts of 4 and 5 feet the next two holes.
On the par-3, 188-yard No. 14, he was perfect.
“I drawed a seven iron straight up in the wind. It was one of those that looked perfect, but you never think it’s gonna go in when it’s this windy,” he said.
Deane Pappas, who had to win a playoff in a Monday qualifier to get into the tournament, was making only his second PGA Tour start this season. He birdied the first two holes from 10 feet to give him some confidence and he made seven birdies and one bogey in his round.
His best birdie came on the par-4 No. 13 after a bad drive off the fairway. He made three when he sank a long chip of about 76 feet.
The putts made him the first Pappas atop the leaderboard because he teed off early in the first group of the day.
After Brenden Pappas started his round 20 minutes later and saw how well his brother was doing, he started pushing himself to catch his sibling.
“I spent the whole round watching him climb the leaderboard and I kind of chased him up there,” Brenden Pappas said. “It was a rush of adrenaline to see my brother play so well. It was really exciting.”
Brenden Pappas’ round was due to steady play as he hit almost every green and fairway in an easy outing on the links. His play on the 359-yard par-4 No. 9 was typical as he drove his ball near the green and chipped up for a short birdie putt.