Defending champ Calcavecchia leads Boeing Classic over five pursuers

Mark Calcavecchia at the Boeing Classic
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Mark Calcavecchia's three-stroke lead is the biggest after the first round in the eight-year history of the Boeing Classic.
By
Associated Press

Series: Champions Tour

Published: Friday, August 24, 2012 | 10:36 p.m.

SNOQUALMIE, Wash. -- Defending champion Mark Calcavecchia eagled the par-5 eighth hole and finished with a 7-under 65 on Friday to take the first-round lead in the Boeing Classic.

Calcavecchia, a playoff winner over Russ Cochran last year at TPC Snoqualmie Ridge for his first Champions Tour title, made a 20-foot putt on No. 8 after his 4-iron approach sailed over the flag.

BOEING CLASSIC

Duffy Waldorf, who won four times on the PGA Tour, and Gene Sauers, who won three times, are making their senior debut this week.

"Had that not gone in, I still would have made birdie and been 4 under," he said. "It went in, which is great. Then, like I always do, I tried to stay aggressive, keep making birdies and shoot low as I could."

Calcavecchia birdied two of the first three holes on the back nine and got to 8 under. But on the par-5, 498-yard 18th, he found the sand twice and took a bogey 6.

"Taking a 6 on an easy 5 kind wrecked an otherwise great day," he said. "I had a great score but you hate doing that. All in all, I played great, hit a lot of great shots."

Calcavecchia won the Montreal Championship in June for his second victory on the 50-and-over tour.

Steve Pate, Jeff Sluman, Joe Don Blake, Eduardo Romero and Kirk Triplett were tied for second at 68.

Fred Couples withdrew because of back problems on the first hole. The Seattle player won the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic in March and Senior British Open last month.

"I didn't feel very good warming up," Couples said. "I hit the tee shot at No. 1 and then my lower back really locked up when I walked down to my second shot.

"It was like a bomb went off in my lower back. I think it's time to rest. I'm sad I won't be able to play in this year's event. For this to happen in Seattle, this is a rough one."

Calcavecchia saw Couples being taken off in a cart.

"It's too bad. Tough break for the tourney. He's our star," Calcavecchia said. "Everybody loves Fred, especially here in Seattle. I was sorry to see that."

Calcavecchia's three-stroke lead is the biggest after the first round in the eight-year history of the event and the largest on the Champions Tour this year. Also, the first-round leader in tournament history never won the title.

"My first rounds lately haven't been very good," Calcavecchia said. "So I rectified that situation at least a little bit."

Willie Wood, coming off his first victory in 16 years last week at the Dick's Sporting Goods Open, was in a group of six at 69.

Bernhard Langer shot an even-par 72. He won in 2010, shooting 66-63-69 to match the tournament record at 18 under.

PGA Tour winners Duffy Waldorf and Gene Sauers made their debuts on the Champions Tour. Sauers opened with a 71, and Waldorf shot 75.