NAPLES, Fla. - Defending champion Bernhard Langer shot an 8-under 64 on Friday to take a one-stroke lead after the first round of the ACE Group Classic.
After making a slight adjustment in his putting stance, Langer birdied three of his first holes in his bogey-free round on TwinEagles' Talon Course.
''Basically, I'm standing farther away,'' Langer said. ''That's really all that is. It just changes my stroke a little bit. I've messed around with that in the past, standing closer, standing farther away, just get a better release.''
The 56-year-old German star won the 2011 tournament and finished second behind Kenny Perry in 2012. Langer won the season-opening event in Hawaii last month for his 19th Champions Tour title.
''We're constantly trying to improve. Every golfer, you don't want to stand still because to stand still is like getting worse,'' Langer said. ''You're constantly trying for that little edge on somebody else or, you know, we also know if we play perfect golf we would hit 18 fairways, 18 greens and hit 18 putts. Nobody's ever done that and nobody will ever do it, but we want to get there as close as possible.''
Bob Tway was second. He birdied his last three holes, making a 60-foot putt on No. 8.
''I didn't hit a very good tee shot so I was a long way back,'' Tway said. ''Just playing into the wind, hit a long iron in there and made that long putt.''
Tway opened with a 65 last year, then shot 79 in the second round.
''You know, it's funny how if you play well it suits your game and if you don't play well it doesn't suit your game,'' Tway said. ''I don't know how else to put that.''
Olin Browne opened with a 66, and Duffy Waldorf and Kirk Triplett shot 67. Waldorf is coming off a playoff loss to Michael Allen on Sunday in Boca Raton in the Allianz Championship.
Allen had a 68.
Langer has finished in the top 10 in 37 of his last 46 events going back to 2012. What makes it more remarkable is that he missed most of 2011 with a left-thumb injury.
''I had many, many years in my career where I was really consistent,'' Langer said. ''There's a lot of competition out here. I don't even play every tournament. There's guys that play more than I do so they have more opportunities to make more money.''