David Toms and Ken Duke each shot 7-under rounds of 65 Friday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Classic in Duluth, Ga.
Duke scattered eight birdies and one bogey across his card at TPC Sugarloaf, while Toms stayed bogey-free with seven birdies. They hold a two-shot lead over Steve Flesch.
Toms opened his round on the back nine with five straight pars before three birdies in a row starting at No. 15 helped him kick into gear.
“I birdied 15 and then I hit a good shot at 16, iron shot to a tough tucked pin there, made another birdie,” Toms said. “Then kind of a bonus there on 17, I didn’t hit a very good drive, had a long shot in, hit 5-iron in, but hit a great shot, made a nice putt, so that got me going.”
A rain delay interrupted the round, but it also made the greens “just a little softer,” Duke said.
“The ball’s just going where you’re looking more than anything and you’re holing a few putts,” Duke said of his game. “It’s not as stressful as it has been at times with ball-striking. We all go through it out here, but just got to be ready when it comes around to just keep the confidence and keep going forward.”
Duke is searching for his first Champions Tour win and this marks just the second time he has held a lead or been tied atop the leaderboard at the end of any round on tour.
Toms last won on the 50-and-older circuit last September at the Ascension Charity Classic.
Flesch began his round on the back nine and made three birdies in his first four holes, but bogeys at the par-4 14th and the par-5 18th set him back. He responded with a slew of birdies at Nos. 1, 2, 3 and 5.
Steve Stricker, Mark Walker, Sweden’s Robert Karlsson and England’s Paul Broadhurst shot 4-under 68 to form a tie for fourth. Ireland’s Padraig Harrington, a Champions Tour rookie, is part of a tie among seven players at 3-under 69.
–Field Level Media