Tuesday qualifier Marco Dawson shot a 9-under 63 on Friday to take the lead in the Champions Tour’s 3M Championship, leaving Bernhard Langer a stroke back five days after the German star’s record-breaking victory in the Senior British Open.
Dawson, playing the back nine first at TPC Twin Cities, birdied three of his first four holes and chipped in for eagle on No. 18. After a birdie on the par-5 third hole, he birdied three of his final four holes.
Looking for his first tour victory, Dawson has three top-10 finishes in eight starts this year, including a tie for fifth three weeks ago in the U.S. Senior Open. He tied for 39th in the Senior British Open.
”Every time I got over the ball I felt like I was going to hit a good shot,” said Dawson, noting he hit his irons exceptionally well. ”If I wasn’t pin high I was very close.”
Langer, the two-time 3M champion who won by a tour-record 13 strokes Sunday at Royal Porthcawl, was tied for second with Jeff Maggert, Rocco Mediate and Vijay Singh. Langer holed out from 155 yards for an eagle on the par-4 14th and added birdies on Nos. 16 and 18. However, he birdied just one of the four par 5s.
”You’ve got to bring your `A’ game if you want to be up there,” Langer said. ”There’s a lot of low scores out there, but you still had to do it.”
Mediate, a part-time Minnesota resident, made a long eagle on the par-5 18th to cap a bogey-free round.
”I love the feeling that this is a sprint … and if you don’t get off to a good start the first day you pretty much don’t have a chance to win,” he said. ”If you shot 1 or 2-under today, you’re done.”
Kenny Perry opened with a 65, and Mike Goodes, Gary Hallberg, Gene Sauers and Bobby Wadkins shot 66. Paul Goydos had a 67 in his debut on the 50-and-over tour.
On a perfect day for golf with temperatures in the low 80s and little wind, 56 of 81 players broke par.
”It was there for the taking,” Hallberg said.
Maggert birdied four of six holes in one stretch on the front side, and birdied three of the final four, but settled for par on the par-5 No. 18.
”I didn’t think it was that easy of a golf course when I played it for the first time Wednesday,” Maggert said, ”but I started looking at the history and some of the scores … and knew I better come out today and try to make a lot of birdies.”
The winning score has been at least 15 under in each of the past seven years, including two winning totals of better than 20 under.
An eagle on the par-5 third hole got Singh to 3 under. Playing in only his second Champions Tour event of the season, he bogeyed No. 4, but three straight birdies on the front got him to 5 under through eight.
Sixty-nine-year-old Hale Irwin, a three-time winner of the event, bettered his age with a 68.