Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Bogey-Free Vaughan Ties First-Round Mark Caps Round with Birdie for 6-Under 64, One-Shot Lead

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Bogey-Free Vaughan Ties First-Round Mark Caps Round with Birdie for 6-Under 64, One-Shot Lead

Article excerpt

On a leader board littered with some of the tour's biggest stars, it was left to a former municipal-course player from Kansas to outshine them all. At least for one day.

But if Bruce Vaughan wants to stay atop the field at the Constellation Senior Players Championship, he might have to reproduce some of the six birdies he posted Thursday at the Fox Chapel Golf Club when he tied the tournament record for low first- round score.

Or conjure some of the magic he produced when he won the 2008 Senior British Open at Royal Troon -- his only victory in five years on the Champions Tour.

"It was just nice to execute," Vaughan said. "It's nice to just hit a shot and have it come off just how you want it to."

Vaughan, 55, had a lot of those in his bogey-free round of 6- under 64 that gave him a one-shot lead on Fred Funk, including an awkward but nonetheless dazzling bunker shot on the final hole that allowed him to finish with an 8-foot birdie.

But he will need to keep his foot on the gas with the plethora of major champions chasing him on the leader board.

Right behind Funk, who birdied four of the final six holes to shoot 65, are defending champion Fred Couples, who did not make a bogey after a mostly sleepless night caused by a stiff back; Tom Lehman, who birdied five of the first seven holes en route to a front-nine 30; and Michael Allen, the only two-time winner on the Champions Tour who had one of the two eagles at No. 18.

They are tied at 66 with Joe Daley, whose best finish in two years on the Champions Tour is a tie for fourth in last month's Senior PGA.

And right behind them is Greg Norman, who overcame a nervous bogey at the opening hole to make six birdies in his first Champions Tour appearance in more than three years. Norman is tied with Jim Thorpe and Bill Glasson at 67.

"I just enjoyed playing, I guess," said Norman, who played with Lehman and Tom Watson (70) and drew the biggest gallery of the day. "When you get out there, you have to find the golf course underneath your feet and feel your way around it. I did that today and made some good putts."

Couples was having a hard time merely feeling his feet when he teed off at 7:50 a.m. His back stiffened overnight and he didn't sleep very well, causing him to walk slowly, at times gingerly, around the course. But there was nothing somnambulant about his game, not after posting a bogey-free round that included four birdies.

The player once known as "Boom Boom" because of his thundering drives helped his round by reaching both par 5s in two for a pair of two-putt birdies. He used a 7-iron to reach the 483-yard second and a 3-wood from 245 yards at the 574-yard 18th.

"I got through it," Couples said. "It's hard for me to finish up at 5 or 6 o'clock [Wednesday] and then tee off in the morning early. …

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