Mark Calcavecchia shot a 6-under 66 Friday and was tied atop an American-dominated leaderboard with Michael Allen and David Peoples after the first round of the Songdo IBD Championship.
The trio shares a one-stroke lead over Mark O’Meara, who finished at 5-under 67 at Jack Nicklaus Golf Club Korea. The $3 million purse is the largest of any official Champions Tour event.
Six players, including Australian Peter Senior, the only non-American in the top-10, are tied for fifth at 4-under 68.
Peoples’ round included five birdies and an eagle at the par-5 15th, where he hit a 3-wood to 10 feet and holed the putt. His lone bogey came at hole No. 6.
“I didn’t putt well today and the ones I made I didn’t expect to,” said Peoples, who began the day using a cross-handed grip before switching to a regular grip after three-putting the sixth hole. “I’ve struggled more with my putting than I did at a younger age.”
Calcavecchia had eight birdies and two bogeys and is seeking to become the first player to win back-to-back starts on the Champions Tour this year after capturing his first title at the Boeing Classic in his last start.
John Cook was the last player to win back-to back titles -- the 2010 Charles Schwab Cup Championship and the season-opening Mitsubishi Electric Championship in Hualalai this year.
“I hit very few bad shots all day,” said Calcavecchia, who admitted he got a great break when his tee shot at the driveable par-4 14th hole hit a rock in the adjacent creek and popped out, leading to a birdie. “I made eight birdies and five of those were tap-ins.”
Allen started on the back nine and, like Peoples, also recorded five birdies, an eagle and a bogey. He made the turn at 2-under 34 after a birdie on No. 18 and followed that with a birdie, birdie, eagle stretch over the next three holes.
Defending champion Russ Cochran is tied for 11th after opening with a 3-under 69.