HOOVER, Ala. -- Defending champion Larry Nelson made a 12-foot eagle putt on the 18th hole Friday to cap a 6-under-par 66 and take a one-stroke lead after the first round of the Bruno's Memorial Classic on the Senior PGA Tour.
Nelson, who won last week's event in Las Vegas, got close on 18 with a 3-wood from about 250 yards out. The gallery roared as he negotiated a pesky, sloping green and vaulted over six players and into the lead.
Nelson, who has played eight straight subpar rounds, also had birdies on Nos. 16 and 17, the latter a 45-foot putt. He had only one bogey, the par-4 12th.
"It was just kind of ho-hum until I got to 16, 17 and 18," Nelson said. "I went from two under to six under in three holes."
George Archer, Bob Eastwood, Joe Inman, Mike McCullough, Gil Morgan and Dana Quigley all had opening 67s. Archer and Quigley both missed putts on 18 that would have tied them with Nelson.
"The last hole is tricky," said Archer, who made five birdies on the back side before the closing bogey. The 526-yard 18th features a green that tilts sharply toward the tee.
Terry Dill, John Jacobs, Bob Murphy and Jim Thorpe all had 68s and seven players were another stroke back.
Playing in Bruno's for the first time, and with some of the day's largest galleries in tow, tour rookie Tom Watson finished with a 71.
The tournament is held on the 6,967-yard Greystone Golf Club about 15 miles south of Birmingham.
Nelson is second on the money list this year with $670,860, but he said his success over the last month has made concentration difficult. He asked for help from his son Drew, who also caddies for him.
"I told my son to help me not get flat," Nelson said. "He helped me stay pumped up."
Players said the greens were frustrating, despite a night of steady rain followed by mostly cloudy skies that kept temperatures in the 60s.
"You can miss a 3- or 4-footer at any time the greens are so treacherous. It's so fast," Inman said.
He said the advantage goes to "the guy who can leave the ball where he wants to putt. It's like Augusta."