PORT ST. LUCIE — Bob Sowards played his last eight holes in 5-under Thursday to shoot a 4-under 68 and share the first-round lead in Event No. 3 of the PGA Tournament Series at PGA Golf Club.
Sowards was 1-over after 10 holes, but made an eagle with a chip-in at No. 13 and three birdies on the back nine of the Ryder Course to share the lead with Chris French of Loves Park, Ill., and Jeffrey Schmid of Iowa City.
“I made a terrible bogey on 10 and just got hot from there,” said Sowards, the PGA Professional at Kinsale Golf & Fitness Club in Powell, Ohio. “It was very cold this morning and the ball wasn’t going anywhere.”
MORE: Live scores for Event No. 3 of the PGA Tournament Series
Schmid was bogey free, making his four birdies on the back nine. French had eight birdies to offset two bogeys and a double bogey.
Sowards finished 18th in last week’s final stage of q-school for the PGA Tour Champions. He was a bad round away from finishing in the top five and earning exempt status.
“I have a lot of confidence,” said Sowards, who has won eight PGA Tournament Series events to rank seventh and captured this fall’s Senior PGA Professional Championship. “I feel like I can play with anyone.”
Frank Bensel of Jupiter is fourth at 69 and six players are tied for fifth with 70s: Omar Uresti, Dick Mast, Brett Walker, Casey Pyne, Kyle Baehler and Mike Genovese.
The winner after Friday’s round receives $5,000.
The PGA Tournament Series is presented by GolfAdvisor.com.