Two share Seniors Open lead

Published 7:18 pm Friday, July 7, 2006

Jay Haas, shooting for his second straight major senior title, reeled off three consecutive birdies on an unusually calm morning and shot a 3-under 67 Thursday to share the first-round lead with Dave Barr in the U.S. Senior Open.

As expected, the heavy rough and roly-poly greens proved tough for the over-50 field, especially in the afternoon. Haas and Barr drew early tee times and were finished long before any of their closest pursuers and before winds kicked up and tightened the short-but-narrow Prairie Dunes course in Hutchinson.

One stroke behind the leaders at 68 with only a handful of players left on the course were D.A. Weibring and three international golfers — Massy Kuramoto of Japan, Graham Marsh of Australia and Mark James.

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Defending champion Allen Doyle had trouble with the 5-inch rough on a couple of holes and was one stroke further back along with Bruce Lietzke, Lonnie Nielsen and Bruce Summerhays.

Doyle, whose closing-round 63 gave him the U.S. Senior Open championship last year, had a double-bogey on the par-4 eighth after hitting into rough which Barr described as “like a wire brush.”

Haas, who beat Brad Bryant on the third playoff hole for the Senior PGA Championship this year, sank an 8-foot putt to salvage bogey on the par-3 fourth after encountering rough.

Then he birdied the next three holes. Haas also bogeyed the 452-yard ninth, which had a particularly difficult pin placement on the undulating green, but finished with birdies on 11 and 17.

His second shot on the par-5 17th, a 5-wood, rolled onto the green. He then two-putted.

Barr, not among the top 100 list of money-winners which is headed by Haas, had four birdies and one bogey for his best round in five senior opens.

A group of several golfers bunched at even-par 70 included gallery favorite Tom Watson and Dana Quigley, who is trying to become the third man to win the Senior Open the week after winning a regular Champion’s Tour event.

Quigley, who shot a 9-under 63 in the closing round of last week’s Greater Kansas City Golf Classic, eagled the par-5 seventh hole but then double-bogeyed the tough par-4 eighth.

Doyle, after going 2 under for the day, also had a double-bogey on the 430-yard eighth after driving into the rough.