KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- John Schroeder shot a 4-under-par 68 Friday in his first tournament since having hernia surgery for a share of the lead in the TD Waterhouse Championship.
Bob Eastwood, who holed out twice from off the green, and defending champion Ed Dougherty also opened with 68s on the Tiffany Greens course.
Hale Irwin, the Senior PGA Tour's leading money-winner, topped an eight-player group at 69 after recovering from a double-bogey 7 on the first hole.
Schroeder, who won the 2001 NFL Golf Classic for his first senior title, had surgery on April 9 and did not get his doctor's permission to return to the tour until this past Tuesday.
While recuperating, he said he corrected a flaw in his swing.
"The time I was off gave me a chance to think about my golf swing and not so much my score," said Schroeder, 56.
Before the surgery, he was not able to get the right hip movement in his swing.
"You look at any good player's swing from behind and their rear's staring at you when they're done," he said. "But mine was parallel to the ground."
Even with lift, clean and place rules in effect on the windy and rain-soaked layout, the average score of 73.182 was more than two strokes higher than last year's opening round. While 50 players broke par in the first round last year on what has been one of the Senior Tour's easiest courses, only 28 did this time.
Faced with forecasts of more rain overnight, the players will go to a two-tee start, starting on No. 1 and No. 10.
"It allows us our best chance to get 18 holes in tomorrow," said tournament director Jeff Kleiber.
Eastwood, 56, has not had a senior tour victory since taking the Bell Atlantic Classic and Raley's Gold Rush Classic in 1997. He rolled a 25-yard chip shot into the cup for an eagle 2 on the ninth hole and holed out from the bunker for a birdie on the par-3 15th.
Then his approach shot on the par-4 18th buried in the lip of a bunker and he missed a 7-foot par putt.
"It was an up-and-down round," he said. "Good breaks and bad breaks. They say the breaks all even out, but golfers will tell you they never do."
Dougherty, who won here last year with a tournament-record 22-under total, three-putted the 17th for a bogey and then sank a 12-foot par putt on No. 18. It's the first time since the 2000 tourney that he hasn't held the lead outright.
"I hit a lot of good shots. I made a lot of good putts," he said. "If you don't hit the fairway, the rough is really heavy and thick. And it's wet."
Also at 69 were Tom Purtzer, Bruce Fleisher, Larry Nelson, J.C. Snead, Jay Sigel, Walter Hall and Bruce Lietzke, who ran off five straight birdies starting at No. 7 and tied the senior tour's longest birdie streak for the season.
Two strokes in back of the leaders were David Graham, Mike Hill, Tom Kite, Sammy Rachels, Lanny Wadkins and Larry Ziegler.
Irwin, who has won two tournaments and $1,035,100 this year, also had trouble with the first hole in last year's tournament.
"Last year I hit my second shot in the water on the first hole," he said. "So this year I went one better and hit two of them in the water. And I hit a perfect drive."
Sigel, Hall, Schroeder, Fleisher and Eastwood all birdied the 510-yard, par-5 hole.
"I ended up making a 7, three shots worse than I should have had, so you kind of look at that as 3-over par," Irwin said.
© 2016. All Rights Reserved. | Contact Us