SAVANNAH, Ga. – Tom Kite and Gil Morgan shot a 10-under 62 in better-ball play Friday for a share of the first-round lead with Ted Schulz and Gary Hallberg in the Champions Tour’s Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf.
Kite and Morgan birdied their first five holes, while Schulz and Hallberg shot a 30 on the back nine at The Club at Savannah Harbor, an island layout in the Savannah River.
The teams of Scott Hoch and Kenny Perry, Hal Sutton and Larry Mize, David Frost and Michael Allen, and Sandy Lyle and Peter Senior opened with 63s.
Kite credited Morgan’s putting.
“Doc putted brilliantly today,” Kite said. “I had a few balls inside his, but he made those putts and we didn’t need mine.”
None was bigger perhaps than Morgan’s 30-footer to save par on No. 18, after he drove into tall marsh grass and needed two shots to get out and on the green.
“I think we only made one mistake,” Morgan said. “We didn’t birdie the (par-5) 11th like we probably should have.”
They did, however, birdie the first five holes.
“That was probably the key,” Kite said. “In the past, we’ve been slow starters.”
Putting was key for Schulz and Hallberg, too.
Hallberg rolled in an 80-footer for birdie at the par-3 17th.
“We hung in there,” Hallberg said. “I was a little off, early, but I found my rhythm and I putted well.”
Hoch eagled the par-4 10th from 87 yards with a sand wedge.
“Kenny’s ball was only an inch from the cup, and I told my caddie I was going to try to get inside him,” Hoch said. “It rolled right past his ball, never touched it, and went in.”
Defending champions Mark O’Meara and Nick Price had a 64. Tom Lehman, a two-time winner this year, teamed with Corey Pavin to also shot a 64. John Cook, coming off his second victory of the year last week at TPC Tampa Bay, and Joey Sindelar had a 65.
Cook played the final 14 holes alone after Sindelar hurt his back. Sindelar said he might try to rejoin Cook, probably in the final round Sunday.
Sindelar said he felt pain in his lower back on his second shot on the first hole. Sindelar played through the fourth hole, which he birdied, then walked off for treatment while Cook played on alone.
“I told him I’d try to hold the fort down,” Cook said. “I told Joey not to jeopardize the rest of the year just to play with me today.”
The team of Ben Crenshaw and Curtis Strange shot a 63 to take a one-stroke lead over three teams in the Raphael Division, a 36-hole event for generally older players who eschew the 54-hole Legends Division. Raphael play concludes Saturday.