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Bob Weeks

TSN Senior Reporter


Hitting fairways at any United States Golf Association event is always a good strategy and Stephen Ames did just that move out to a first-round lead at the U.S. Senior Open. The Canadian hit 12 of 14 fairways en route to a 5-under 65, good for a share of the first-round lead with American Billy Andrade.

“I missed two fairways today,” said Ames, “nine and 18. That’s pretty good.”

Keeping the ball on the short grass at the Omaha Country Club allowed Ames to make seven birdies in his round, suffering bogeys on the fifth and 17th holes.

“I think in any U.S. Open you have to hit a lot of fairways,” said Ames, “depending on the length of the golf course but it helps for sure.”

The two-time winner on the PGA Tour Champions got an assist on his day from his new caddie Troy Martin, who lives in Omaha. Although he wasn’t a regular at the club, he knew enough about the course to provide some initial assistance

“Yeah, he doesn’t play here very often,” stated Ames, who is staying at his caddie’s house this week. “We did our homework prior to this.”

Martin has been one key to Ames’ renewed good form. The two teamed up in May and in their first tournament together recorded a tie for 10th. The next event led to a tie for second and two starts after that, they recorded a victory.

“I’m like, OK, what are you doing for the rest of the year?” Ames said, punctuating the comment with a hearty laugh.”

Ames also gave credit for his recent good play to his coach Shaheen Nakhjavani of Montreal. The two work virtually most of the time, with Nakhjavani giving lessons over FaceTime.

And he reconnected with his longtime sports psychologist, Alan Fine, who has added another strong plank in his solid play, keeping his mind from getting too complicated.

Together, they’ve all contributed to getting the 57-year-old Ames’ game back on track.

Mike Weir started his first U.S. Senior Open with an even-par round, good for a tie for 16th. The third Canadian in the field, Lionel Kunka, fired a 9-over 79.