Hotgrieve officially signed for a 7-under-par 65, easily his best round of the year. That total was also good enough to give him the first-round lead in the Senior PGA Tours NFL Golf Classic in Clifton, N.J.
Holtgrieve is three shots clear of Ted Goin, Jim Colbert and John Bland ' all of who shot 4-under-par 68s.
Defending champion Lee Trevino is in a group six off the lead after a first-round 71.
Prior to his first 18 holes at the Upper Montclair Country Club, Hotgrieve had yet to break 68 in 2001. In fact, his first-round scoring average was a dismal 72.3.
Things were different this Friday. Holtgrieve was even par through six holes before he eagled the par-5 7th. After making the turn in 2-under-par 34, the 53-year-old birdied the 11th and 12th holes, and then added three consecutive red numbers beginning at the par-3 15th.
Holtgrieve, in his third season on tour, is competing in his 16th event of the year. His best finish came in a tie for 19th at The Countrywide Tradition.
His best finish ever on tour is a tie for second in the 1999 Home Depot Invitational.
Twelve players advanced to the final round of the NFL Players tournament. Third-day scores do not carry over to the final round. The players will start their final 18 holes with a clean slate.
The following will compete in Saturday's final round: Defending champion Craig Hentrich, Glenn Foley, Danny Kanell, Chris Hetherington, Kevin Long, Chris Mohr, Bart Oates, Nat Moore, Tim Brown, Mitch Berger, Terell Buckley and Olindo Mare.
Full-field scores from the NFL Golf Classic