Vaughan leads at U.S. Senior Open with 4-under 66Despite the fatigue of traveling eight time zones since last week's Senior British Open, Tom Watson managed an even-par 70 at Sahalee.July 29, 2010
PGA TOUR staff
SAMMAMISH, Wash. (AP) -- Bruce Vaughan took advantage of cool morning conditions with an opening-round 66 to take a two-shot lead in the first round of the U.S. Senior Open on Thursday.
Less than a week after finishing T20 at the Senior British Open, Vaughan picked up where he left off with birdies on the 16th and 18th holes. Vaughan then birdied the second, third and sixth holes on his back nine.
"It's just the first day. I mean, there is a lot of golf left and a lot of trouble out there for the next three days," Vaughan said.
Loren Roberts shot a 2-under 68, finishing about an hour before Vaughan. Amateur Tim Jackson was also at 2 under, a year after leading this tournament after two rounds and finishing in a tie for 11th. Tom Lehman, Michael Allen and Joe Ozaki were another shot back after 69s.
Only eight players finished under par, just two in the afternoon -- Mark Calcavecchia and Bernhard Langer at 69 -- after the morning clouds disappeared and the sun made the Sahalee course even firmer and faster. It was the fewest sub-par scores in the first round since 2003 at Inverness when there were four.
About the only favorable bounce went to Calcavecchia, who glanced his side-hill second shot on No. 18 off a green side tree. Instead of bouncing into trouble, Calcavecchia's ball stopped just short of the green, and he rolled it up to the front pin for birdie.
"It seems like the top 100 players in the world were here, rather than a 156 old guys," Calcavecchia said. "This is probably the hardest pin placements I've seen in years. It was tough."
Fred Couples, the hometown favorite playing 20 miles east from where he grew up, nearly saw his round unravel when a blocked tee shot on No. 1 -- his 10th hole -- plugged in a fern bush at the base of two cedars. After taking an unplayable lie, Couples managed bogey, but made another two holes later to fall to 3 over.
Then came Couples' one run. The 50-year-old star, playing in his first U.S. Senior Open, strung together three straight birdies to salvage an even-par round of 70.
"I think the score I shot is phenomenal," Couples said. "I would have taken 70 before the round started. ... I was very, very mediocre. I don't know what else to tell you. I can tell you I birdied three holes in a row, three good holes.
While Couples was riding a rollercoaster of bogeys and birdies, Vaughan was steady. He birdied the 16th and 18th holes -- the latter a brutal, uphill 465-yard par 4, converted from a par 5. Vaughan added birdies at the second, third and sixth holes on his back nine, before bogeying the par-3 ninth, his final hole of the day.
"More shocked probably than anything," Vaughan said. "I did everything you were supposed to do. It was nothing crazy."
Other favorites were far off the leaderboard. Defending champ Fred Funk shot 76. U.S. Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin needed a birdie on his final hole to shoot 72. Jay Haas was 2 under on his first nine, before a trio of bogeys coming home. He had a 70.
"The rough is not brutal, but you almost can't get to the green anyway because there is always a tree in the way," Haas said.
Tom Watson and Couples were the marquee group teeing off before 11 a.m. ET. The 60-year-old Watson said earlier this week he thought there would be a number of high scores during the tournament. But with cool, receptive conditions, Watson was aggressive and found himself in a tie for the lead at 3 under after dropping a downhill birdie putt on the third, his 12th hole, to go with birdies on Nos. 12, 17 and 2.
Watson said the fatigue of traveling eight time zones from the Senior British Open to the West Coast finally caught up with him, though. He made bogeys with poor iron shots at Nos. 6, 8 and 9 to close his round of 70.
"I'm tired and hurting," Watson said. "When you wake up at 1 o'clock in the morning and can't go back to sleep, it's tough to play."