GRAND BLANC, Mich. (AP) — Bernhard Langer shot his age on his 64th birthday Friday for a share of the lead with Marco Dawson in the suspended first round of the The Ally Challenge.
“I was texting with my family this morning because of the rain delay and I said, `My goal is to shoot my age today and give myself a birthday present.′ Just shows you the strengths of the mind if you put something in your mind and a goal and sometimes you can achieve it. It’s the first time I shot my age. I’ve tried for two years.”
Langer had nine birdies and a bogey at Warwick Hills, playing the back nine in 6-under 30 in the round that started about five hours late because of the rain.
“It was awesome,” Langer said. “First of all, that atmosphere all day was incredible from people singing `Happy Birthday’ three different times during the day.”
The German star has 41 PGA Tour Champions victories, four off Hale Irwin's record.
“To be able to do this for 45 years now for myself as a professional on tour, it’s pretty much unheard of that many years, and to be successful most of those years,” Langer said. “So I’m very blessed, I know it. I’ve got to pinch myself every once in a while.”
He won his last title in March 2020.
“I’m still reasonably healthy,” Langer said. “I have lots of aches and pains, but I’m reasonably healthy. I can do this still fairly well and still competitive. I know Father Time is ticking and it won’t last forever, so I’m trying to enjoy every day I’m out here.”
Dawson eagled the par-5 16th with a 60-yard shot and had six birdies for his 8-under 64.
“Drove it well and I putted well. That usually leads to good scoring,” Dawson said. “And the irons were pretty good for the most part.”
Defending champion Jim Furyk was a stroke back with Joe Durant and K.J. Choi, with Choi still on the course with a hole left when the round was suspended for day because of darkness.
Furyk won last year in his Champions debut and took the PURE Insurance Championship a month and half later in his second senior start. Also the winner of the PGA Tour's 2003 Buick Open at Warwick Hills, he won the U.S. Senior Open last month in Nebraska and tied for second last week in the Boeing Classic.
Furyk holed a 97-yard shot on the par-5 first for an eagle.
“Got off to a real fast start holing a wedge there at 1 and made an eagle early,” Furyk said. “Then kind of plodded along, made some good pars, had a couple good looks. Was able to get a putt at 6 and that kind of opened the floodgates.”
Darren Clarke, playing alongside Furyk and Ernie Els, was at 66 with Woody Austin. Doug Barron also was 6 under with a hole left.
Mike Weir of Brights Grove, Ont., fired a 68, while Calgary's Stephen Ames opened with a 70.
Davis Love III, grouped with Langer and Boeing Classic winner Rod Pampling, opened with a 67.
Retief Goosen, the runner-up last year, also shot 67. He's playing for the first time since the U.S. Senior Open on July 11. Els shot 69.