Brett Quigley shoots 64 to take Cologuard Classic lead

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Brett Quigley birdied six of the last seven holes Friday for a 9-under 64 and the first-round lead in the PGA Tour Champions’ Cologuard Classic.

The winner a month ago in Morocco in his second Champions start, the 50-year-old Quigley birdied Nos. 12-15 and 17-18 on Tucson National’s Catalina Course.

“I think I was 3 under and I saw someone 6. I was like, `All right, I’ve got to get going here. I’ve just got to make some birdies.’ Hit some good shots and made some good putts and all of a sudden it was a bunch of birdies.”

Robert Karlsson was second, making five back-nine birdies in a 65, The 50-year-old Swede is making his second career start on the 50-and-over tour. He tied for 23rd two weeks ago in the Chubb Classic in his senior debut.

Steve Stricker, John Daly, Glen Day and Rod Pampling shot 67. Hall of Famers Fred Couples and Bernhard Langer were another stroke back along with Ken Tanigawa.

Couples eagled the par-5 second and closed with two birdies.

“I hit the ball pretty well,” Couples said. “I felt good on the greens.”

Quigley followed the victory in Morocco with a ninth-place tie in Florida in the Chubb Classic.

“I’m just playing golf,” Quigley said. “I’m just trying to keep it simple.”

The nephew of 11-time PGA Tour Champions winner Dana Quigley, he had five runner-up finishes in 408 starts on the PGA Tour, earning more than $11 million.

“It’s such a great atmosphere out here,” Quigley said. “The camaraderie’s just different than the tour. Everybody still calls me “Champ” out here, walking by. It’s just a nice feeling. It’s not as dog eat dog as it is out there on the big tour. And I’ve had a bunch of time off, so I’m ready to play golf and I’m happy playing golf.”

Stricker won the 2018 event for the first of his five senior victories. His daughter, Bobbi Maria, made the traveling squad for Wisconsin’s golf team and played in the Phoenix area this week.

“It was pretty good, pretty solid,” Stricker said. “No bogeys today, so that’s always a good thing going around any course. It was tricky out there at times. The wind would come up and lie down.”

Daly had six birdies in a seven-hole stretch on his second nine. After playing the back nine in even par with a birdie and bogey, Daly birdied Nos. 2-5 and 7-8. He won his lone senior title in 2017.

“The greens are really good and you’ve got to hit some good shots into them because they’re pretty firm,” Daly said. “It’s hard to get a ball real close. That’s the way we always like it here. I just made so many 20- and 30-footers today. I didn’t hit it bad, I just didn’t hit it close. I just made some putts. It’s hard to do. It’s hard to keep doing that, so hopefully I can maybe hit a few more greens and get a little closer.”

He scrambled for the bogey on the par-5 17th.

“Hit it out-of-bounds,” Daly said. “Then my third one after the tee, I killed it, caught the tree, went right behind it, chipped out, got up-and-down for bogey, so that kind of saved the round.

Defending champion Mark O’Meara birdied three of the last four in a 69.

Chubb Classic winner Scott Parel opened with a 70.

Ernie Els had a 73 in his second senior start. He lost a playoff to Miguel Angel Jimenez in January in his debut in the season-opening event in Hawaii.

Hall of Fame pitcher John Smoltz shot 74. Playing alongside Karlsson and Thongchai Jaidee in the last group of the day off the first tee, Smoltz had five birdies, but made a triple bogey on the par-4 third and had three bogeys.