LAKE ORION, Mich. — Tom Kite set a U.S. Senior Open record with 28 on the front nine at Indianwood and finished at 5-under-par 65 on Thursday for a one-stroke lead.
Corey Pavin’s sixth birdie on his 17th hole pulled him into a tie atop the leaderboard, but a penalty pushed him back to the pack after completing his first round.
Pavin hit a chip after his ball moved back a fraction of an inch when he grounded his club on his 14th hole and that later cost him two strokes.
“Yeah, I agree,” he said after watching slow-motion replays of the infraction with officials in a TV trailer.
That setback put Bernhard Langer and Lance Ten Broeck in second place, one shot behind Kite.
It pushed Pavin into a five-way tie for fourth with Fred Funk, Jeff Sluman, Tom Pernice Jr. and Mikael Hogberg at 3-under 67.
“Still a very good score,” Pavin said. “I just like the way I played. That’s the important thing now. There’s three more rounds and lots of time to make it up and lots of golf left.”
Kite, who matched the lowest nine-hole score of his career on the front nine, is confident his window to win on the Champions Tour hasn’t closed.
The 62-year-old Kite expects players like him to have success more than a decade into their career on the 50-and-over circuit because they’re staying in shape and relentlessly working on their game.
“You probably haven’t read, but 60 is the new 40,” Kite said.
Kite, whose season-best finish was a tie for second four months ago at the Toshiba Classic, hasn’t won on the Champions Tour since 2008.
He put himself in a position to end the drought on the front nine with an eagle from 155 yards at the 424-yard, par-4 No. 4 with a blind shot over a hill.
Kite also had five birdies before making the turn, leaving his playing partners – Peter Jacobsen and Scott Simpson – to marvel at his seven-under front nine.
“I felt like the Washington Generals playing against the Harlem Globetrotters out there,” Jacobsen said. “He didn’t miss a shot on the front nine.”
Kite had the best nine-hole score in a USGA championship. There were seven 29s, including three at the U.S. Open, most recently by Vijay Singh in 2003. Olin Browne had the previous U.S. Senior Open record, shooting 29 on the back nine in the third round last year at Inverness.
EUROPEAN TOUR: In Inverness, Scotland, Francesco Molinari tied the best round in the Scottish Open’s 40-year history, shooting 10-under-par 62 to take a two-stroke lead into the second day of the British Open warm-up tournament.
Molinari rolled in 10 birdies in his first 15 holes in calm early conditions on the Castle Stuart links course, but missed out a chance to shoot the first 59 on the European Tour by finishing with three consecutive pars.
Top-ranked Luke Donald looked set to finish close behind Molinari until he bogeyed two of his last five holes for 67. Alejandro Canizares is second after 64, with Soren Kjeldsen and Raphael Jacquelin another shot behind.
Phil Mickelson had 73 on a day he was supposed to be at the Vatican with his wife and daughter. He cut short his vacation to get more practice ahead of the British Open.
Former No. 1 Martin Kaymer is among a bunch of players to shoot 67 along with Donald, while three-time major winner Padraig Harrington and 2010 British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen signed for 69s.
Former Augusta State golfer Scott Jamieson also opened with 69.
WEB.COM TOUR: In Sandy Utah, Doug LaBelle II shot 6-under-par 30 on the back nine en route to 64 and a share of the lead with Brad Fritsch and Morgan Hoffmann in the Utah Championship at Willow Creek Country Club.
The three hold a one-stroke lead over Jason Allred.
Aiken native Matt Hendrix opened with 70. Augusta’s Scott Parel had 71.