SANTA CLARITA, Calif. (AP) — Nick Price birdied the final hole for a 6-under 66 and a one-stroke lead over defending champion Tom Purtzer on Friday after the first round of the Champions Tour’s AT&T Champions Classic.
Price, winless in 17 career starts since joining the 50-and-over tour last year, topped a leaderboard for the first time 54 Champions Tour rounds. He won 18 times on the PGA Tour, including three major victories.
“The last 2 1/2 years has been awful playing-wise,” said Price, whose best finish was a tie for third last year. “People said I wasn’t interested, but I was trying. My confidence was probably at an all time low midway through last year.”
Price finished fifth in his last event, The ACE Group Classic, missing a 10-foot putt that would have gotten him into a playoff.
“I’ve played well as of late,” Price said. “When you post one or two good scores hopefully that’s a good sign.”
He had seven birdies and a bogey in windy conditions.
“I did my damage with the wind at my back,” Price said. “When the wind was in my face, I just tried to hang on.”
Purtzer, a playoff winner last year over Loren Roberts, had three birdies and an eagle for the only bogey-free round of the day. He also won the 2003 tournament.
“The key for the next two days is to hit the ball solid,” Purtzer said. “I’m not feeling real comfortable over the ball like I was last year.”
Dana Quigley opened with a 68, Roberts and Graham Marsh shot 69s, and Fred Funk, Jerry Pate, Jeff Sluman, Vicente Fernandez, Andy Bean, Brad Bryant, Dave Stockton and Joe Ozaki had 70s. Gil Morgan, the 1996, 1997 and 2004 winner, shot a 73.