They shot 6-under-66s on Thursday in the tour's fourth major of the year, leaving them a stroke ahead of David Edwards on the Crosswater Golf Club in the high desert of central Oregon. Tom Watson, Ben Crenshaw and Bruce Summerhays were two strokes behind.
Reid's 66 was his lowest score since March. He has three top-10 finishes, but described most of his play this year by quoting Lee Trevino.
'He said, `My scorecard looks like a bingo card.' And that's what it's been like for me this summer,' said Reid, whose only victory on the tour came at the 2005 Senior PGA Championship.
Under sunny conditions, a few spectators watched by boat on the Little Deschutes River that winds through the 7,489-yard course -- the new tournament site.
Reid made a 14-foot-birdie putt on the par-4 18th, one of four birdies he made on the last six holes.
'The birdies were great, but what really kept me going out there were a couple of key par saves,' he said.
McNulty, who has had lower back problems and also has had a down year on the tour for players 50 and older, birdied his last four holes.
'Any time you shoot 66 you've got to hold putts,' McNulty said. 'You've got to make the 4-footers, you've got to make the 20-footers and you've got to make the 30-footers,' he said.
McNulty, who joined the Champions Tour in 2004 and has five victories, had nine birdies and three bogeys in his round.
Watson had eight birdies and four bogeys. His strategy for the rest of the tournament? 'Try to keep the eight birdies every day and get rid of the bogeys,' he said.
Temperatures in the 80s on Thursday were expected to drop a bit as the week progresses, and a chance of rain was expected Sunday.
Still, Watson was predicting final-round scores hovering around 12-under.
Last year, Argentina's Eduardo Romero came from five shots back on the final day to beat Lonnie Nielsen with a birdie on the first playoff hole at the Reserve Vineyards & Golf Club in Aloha, west of Portland.
The Tradition started at Desert Mountain in Scottsdale, Ariz., before it was moved to Superstition Mountain. With the help of Oregon native Peter Jacobsen, the event moved again in 2003 to the Reserve.
Jacobsen, who had hip replacement surgery last November but was playing in his 14th event this year, shot a 72 on Thursday.
Money leader Jay Haas, who had a first-round 70, has finished in the top 10 in the season's first three majors.
Tom Watson won the British Open, Brad Bryant took the U.S. Senior Open and Denis Watson won the Senior PGA Championship.
The Tradition is sponsored by Jeld-Wen, an Oregon-based window and door manufacturer.