Olin Browne had one of those magical rounds that all golfers hope for, shooting a bogey-free 9-under-par 63 Friday to take a two-shot lead after the first day of the Allianz Championship.
Even his bad shots didn't hurt his nine-birdie round on a sunny, breezy day on the Old Course at Broken Sound.
"I made two errant swings and got away with both of them," said Browne, 57, of Tequesta, who started on the back nine.
One of those swings was his tee shot on the reachable par-4 seventh, which ended up 46 yards short of the green in a bunker. Browne hit his second shot to a foot and a half and made birdie.
The other was on the difficult par-4 ninth, where his second shot finished in the rough left of the green. Browne hit his pitch from there to a few inches to save par.
Kenny Perry was second at 7-under 65. Marco Dawson, Scott McCarron and Tom Byrum were tied for third at 66. PGA Tour Champions rookie David Toms was tied for sixth at 67 with Jay Don Blake and Joe Durant.
Fred Couples, who is playing the Allianz for the first time, was tied for ninth at 68 with eight others, including 71-year-old Hale Irwin, Colin Montgomerie and Miguel Angel Jimenez.
Browne birdied eight of nine holes starting on the 17th. That included a tap-in birdie on the par-5 18th, a few birdie putts inside 2 feet and a couple of 15-footers.
"Anytime you shoot a really good score, you're bound to string a few together," Browne said. "It was one of those kind of days where I was in the zone to make putts all day long."
Perry, 56, of Franklin, Ky., who was the top-ranked player on the Champions tour in 2013, said his 65 was his best round in a long time.
"I've played lousy for two years," Perry said. "[Today] I eagled the first hole and I guess it changed the way I was feeling. I played like I used to play. I felt like I knew what I was doing out there."
After hitting a 3-wood to the green of the 537-yard par-5 first hole, Perry sank a 20-foot eagle putt. He added three birdies on the front and had three birdies and a bogey on the back. Perry, Brown and Byrum tee off in the final group Saturday at 12:50 p.m.
Perry said he got so disheartened with his game that he stopped practicing and didn't play any tournaments for three months last summer.
"Let me tell you this: I've hit more balls in the past two weeks than I've hit in two years combined," Perry said. "I got tired of playing bad so I kind of stepped up and started hitting a lot of balls to see if it would help.
"I hit a lot of really good quality shots the first 12 holes, just awesome, and then I kind of hung on from there."
Defending champion Esteban Toledo shot 69 playing with Couples and local favorite Bernhard Langer of Boca Raton, who shot 71. Toledo, of Houston, was even on the front and made three birdies on the back, including a two-putt birdie on 18.
"Overall, it was great. Playing with Couples and Bernhard, it doesn't get better than that," said Toledo, who enjoyed the large gallery he and his partners attracted. "I played pretty solid all day long. I finished pretty strong."
And although he was six shots behind Browne, he is not giving up on successfully defending his title.
"Anyone from 3 under or even even can make a move," said Toledo, who came from four shots behind the leader on the final day last year to win in a playoff. "I'm going to push a little bit tomorrow, play more aggressive. Last year it was the same. I was behind, behind, then I got the trophy."
This article is written by Steve Waters from Sun Sentinel and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network.
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