Three share lead at first major of PGA Tour Champions season
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Billy Andrade, Timothy O’Neal and Paul Broadhurst each shot a 5-under 67 to take the first-round lead Thursday at the Regions Tradition, the first of five PGA Tour Champions majors, with defending champion Steve Stricker 1 shot back.
Joining Stricker at 68 were Ernie Els, Padraig Harrington and Ken Duke. Stricker has thrived on the Founders Course at Greystone, with two wins and two runner-up finishes in his past four appearances.
Bernhard Langer was 2 shots back after a 69 that included a rare burst of frustration from the even-keeled German. After missing a short birdie putt on the par-5 13th, Langer threw his long putter and then heaved his ball into the trees.
The 65-year-old Langer shares the PGA Tour Champions record of 45 victories with Hale Irwin. His 11 senior majors include two wins in Birmingham.
O’Neal started on the 10th hole and had a pair of eagles on the par-5 18th and second holes, with one of his two bogeys in between.
The 50-year-old is seeking his first win on the senior tour. He’s coming off his best finish, tying for 10th at last week’s Mitsubishi Electric Classic. O’Neal earned his card through qualifying school last fall.
Andrade had a bogey-free round, recording three straight birdies before hitting the flagstick with his approach on No. 16. The ball bounced well back but stayed on the green.
He’s seeking his fourth win on the senior circuit, with the previous three all coming in 2015. Those included the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship.
Broadhurst has two senior major titles, the 2016 Senior British Open and 2018 Senior PGA Championship. He had seven birdies and two bogeys.
David Toms, who trails only Stricker in the Schwab Cup standings, withdrew with an illness. Toms and Stephen Ames are the only players with multiple wins this year. Ames, the winner last week at TPC Sugarloaf in Georgia, opened with a 70.
Harrington wiped out his only bogey with a closing birdie. Duke made a double bogey on the par-4 third hole but started a run of three straight birdies on No. 13. Els had only one bogey.
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