Scott McCarron, looking for his fourth PGA Tour Champions victory of the year, shot a 6-under-par 66 on Friday to share the first-round lead at the Ally Challenge in Grand Blanc, Mich.
Tom Gillis and South Africa’s Retief Goosen also opened with 66s at Warwick Hills Golf & Country Club.
Jerry Smith, Jerry Kelly, Jay Haas and Northern Ireland’s Darren Clarke are tied for fourth at 5 under. Woody Austin, Duffy Waldorf, Steve Flesch, Germany’s Bernhard Langer and Australia’s Stephen Leaney share eighth place at 4 under.
McCarron leads the Champions circuit’s Schwab Cup money list after posting victories in the Mitsubishi Electric Classic, the Insperity Invitational and the Mastercard Japan Championship plus three runner-up finishes. The 54-year-old Sacramento native owns 11 wins on the Champions tour after recording three wins on the PGA Tour.
McCarron’s bogey-free round included two birdies on the front nine and four on the back nine.
“You’re always hoping to go out there and have a good round,” McCarron said. “Conditions were a little bit soft out there from the rain that we had, and there were some gusty winds out there. It was difficult to kind of judge distance with some of our iron shots, so it was hard to get it close.”
Goosen notched seven birdies and a lone bogey as he seeks his second Champions win since becoming eligible for the tour when he turned 50 in February. He won the Bridgestone Senior Players Championship in July.
Gillis had three birdies on each nine during a bogey-free day. The 51-year-old Detroit-area native has three career runner-up finishes in Champions play but no wins.
“There wasn’t a whole lot to it,” Gillis said, according to the Detroit News. “Just kind of hit it down the middle, made a few putts and didn’t get in much trouble. Stayed out of trouble. … It was all good.”
Defending champion Paul Broadhurst is tied for 32nd at 1 under. He is seeking his third consecutive win in Michigan, having captured both the 2018 Ally Championship plus the 2018 KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship in Benton Harbor, Mich.
–Field Level Media