PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (AP) Jesper Parnevik birdied three of his last four holes Friday at Poppy Hills for a share of the lead with Tom Byrum in the Champions Tour’s First Tee Open.
Parnevik closed with a 5-foot birdie putt on the par-4 ninth for a 5-under 66. Byrum finished 6 1/2 hours earlier, holing a 15-foot birdie putt on the par-5 18th at Pebble Beach for a 5-under 67.
”It’s great just to be here. When you get to this area, in this weather, it’s amazing,” Parnevik said. ”Usually, I am here in February, playing in the AT&T event. … I hear this is the best time to come. The courses are in great shape. Everything is firm, compared to soggy in February.”
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Using a new putter and new left hand-low putting style, Parnevik had six birdies and one bogey. The 50-year-old Swede, who birdied three of his final four holes, is winless in 12 starts on the 50-and-over tour after winning five times on the PGA Tour.
”I had a little bit of panic yesterday,” Parnevik said. ”I caught the equipment repair van just before they were about to leave and got two different putters from them. I used one yesterday, but just before I teed off today, I switched to the other one.
”About 10 minutes before I teed off today, I switched to a left hand-low grip with a weird grip that felt so bad. I was holding onto my right finger with my left finger. It was the first time I putted left hand low and I just said, `Let’s go with it.’ I made birdie on the first hole and I putted probably the best I have all year. Go figure. On the second hole, I went up to putt and I forgot even how I held it on the first hole.”
The 54-year-old Byrum had five birdies in a bogey-free round. He was second last year, a stroke behind John Cook, and is winless in 62 career senior starts. Byrum won the 1989 Kemper Open for his lone PGA Tour title.
”I was looking forward to playing here after last year, for sure,” said Byrum, who played in the fourth group of the morning. ”I haven’t always played Pebble that well in the past, but last year gave me hope that it wasn’t a fluke, so this year I felt good about it.”
Mark McNulty was third at 4 under after a 68 at Pebble Beach, the site of the final round. He bogeyed the final hole.
”I made a big mistake on 18,” said McNulty, whose last Champions Tour win was the 2011 Legends of Golf. ”I had mud on the ball and we knew it was going to go left. But somehow my brain thought it was going right. I hit it straight left into the bunker.”
Colin Montgomerie, Sandy Lyle and Woody Austin shot 68 at Poppy Hills to reach 3 under. Montgomerie is coming off a victory two weeks ago in England in a European Senior Tour event.
Jeff Maggert opened with a 74 at Poppy Hills. He leads the tour with four victories – winning three of his last six starts – and tops the Charles Schwab Cup standings.
Davis Love III had a 75 at Poppy Hills. He won the PGA Tour’s Wyndham Championship last month to become the third-oldest champion in tour history at 51 years, 4 months, 10 days.