SNOQUALMIE, Wash. (AP) — Ernie Els made a 50-foot eagle putt on the par-5 18th for a 66-under 66 and a share of the Boeing Classic lead Friday with Woody Austin and Billy Mayfair.
“That putt on 18 is obviously a huge bonus,” Els said.
Els also had six birdies and two bogeys at Snoqualmie Ridge.
“I had a nice round,” Els said. “That’s it. I felt like I was in control of my golf swing, which is nice. For me, I’ve got to really get the tee shots in play, which I did most of the day.”
The 51-year-old South African star, a four-time major champion, won both of his PGA Tour Champions titles in 2020.
The 57-year-old Austin birdied three of the last four holes and had had nine birdies and three bogeys. He has four senior victories after also winning four PGA Tour titles.
“It’s been a rough year. I haven’t played well,” Austin said. “It’s probably the best round I’ve played all year, probably the only round I’ve played real good all year and I still made three bogeys, so it’s just been a goofy year. I just haven’t been able to score.”
Mayfair rebounded from a bogey on 16 with a birdie on 18.
“I hit the ball very well today,” Mayfair said. “I hit it in the right spots. I made some putts.”
Winless on the 50-and-over tour after winning five times on the PGA Tour, the 55-year-old Mayfair also had the first-round lead last week in Calgary, Alberta, shooting an 8-under 62 en route to a fifth-place finish.
Davis Love III closed with a bogey to drop into a tie for fourth at 67 with 2018 winner Scott Parel, 2017 champion Jerry Kelly and Steven Alker.
Jim Furyk and Colin Montgomerie topped the group at 68.
Brandt Jobe, the 2019 winner in the event that was canceled last year because of the COVID-10 pandemic, had a 70.
Two-time Boeing winner Bernhard Langer also opened with a 70.
Playing alongside Love, local favorite Fred Couples and Mike Weir shot 72.
“Just was mediocre,” Couples said. “Actually, I hit the ball solid and everything and I just kept making bogeys. Then the back nine, hit the ball kind of the same, obviously, a little bit better.”