Eagles give Browne Senior Open lead

Olin Browne drives on the ninth hole
Olin Browne made two eagles in a five-hole stretch.
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Olin Browne eagled two holes in a five-hole span down the stretch and finished with a 7-under 64 Thursday for a two-stroke lead after the opening round of the US Senior Open.

Browne, a three-time winner on the PGA Tour in his third year on the 50-and-over circuit, had four birdies, two eagles and a bogey.

At 2 under and three shots off the pace on his 13th hole, he hit a hybrid-3 from 216 yards that came to rest 6 feet from the pin at the par-5 fourth and then rolled in the putt for eagle.

His next eagle was far more dramatic.

He laid up with a 4-iron second shot on the par-5 8th and had 97 yards left. His wedge landed just beyond the flag, then spun back into the cup as he cast a stunned look at caddie Otis Moore.

Over the six holes numbered 3 through 8, he went 6 under, and picked up five shots on par in a span of five holes.

The 64 tied for the lowest first-round ever at a US Senior Open, matching Bruce Fleisher (2000), R.W. Eaks (2002) and Craig Stadler (2005). It was also the lowest Champions Tour score for Browne, although in the final rounds of his only two previous US Senior Opens he had shot 65 and 66.

Playing late on an oppressively humid day at lengthy Inverness Club, Browne was two strokes clear of Mark O'Meara and Michael Allen, who each shot bogey-free 66s.

O'Meara, whose last two PGA victories came in the 1998 Masters and British Open, used an old set of irons while fighting off jet lag from a frequent-flyer's dream trip over the past few weeks. Allen's only Seniors victory came in another major championship in Ohio, the 2009 Senior PGA at Canterbury in Cleveland.

Amateur Damon Green, better known as Zach Johnson's caddie, was at 67 with former US Open champion Steve Jones and Mark Wiebe.

Another shot back at 68 were former British Open winner Mark Calcavecchia, US Open winner Corey Pavin and PGA Championship victor Jeff Sluman, along with Steve Pate, Tommy Armour III, Jim Thorpe, Kiyoshi Murota and Trevor Dodds.

Seemingly ageless Hale Irwin was up to his usual tricks. The winner of three US Opens, including the 1979 edition at Inverness Club, was once again in contention in a major at age 66. He shot a 69.

There were 35 players who broke par and another 11 who equaled it.

Defending champion Bernhard Langer, still rounding into shape after rehabbing a thumb injury for 4 months, shot a 70. He was joined at 1 under by Russ Cochran, coming off a major championship victory a week ago at the Senior British Open.

Tagged: Mark Calcavecchia, Mark O'Meara, Mark Wiebe, Olin Browne

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