Mark Brooks, winner of seven events from 1988 to 1996, fired a 7-under-par 65 on Thursday to lead by one shot over defending champion Jason Bohn and Harrison Frazar.
'Scoring wise, it was a very good round, obviously,' said Brooks, who is in the final year of the 10-year exemption he earned at Valhalla. 'I have had a lot of good iron-hitting rounds this year, but not many good driving rounds.'
Thursday's round was no different: Brooks hit only half of the fairways and ranked near the bottom of the field in driving distance. But he also ranked inside the top 10 in putting.
'More than anything, this has been a poor driving year. If you can't drive it out here, you can't play,' he said.
At the moment, Brooks is free of the back problems that have bothered him for the past five or six years. In 2006, though, the 45 year old has made just five cuts in his 22 starts.
On Thursday he birdied back-to-back holes from the 12th and 15th, rolling in a 30-foot putt at the par-3 16th to get to 4 under. Brooks dropped his only stroke at the par-4 17th, where he knocked his tee shot behind a tree but made a 10-foot putt to save par.
'The key to my round was No. 17,' Brooks said. 'That was a pretty good putt for a five.'
Minus-3 around the turn, Brooks moved back to 4 under with a short birdie putt at the par-4 first. He carded consecutive birdies again at the fourth and fifth, then got to 7 under with a 12-foot birdie putt at the par-5 eighth.
Much of the talk following the first round involved the host course.
Turning Stone Resort's Atunyote Golf Club had to be readied quickly after heavy, drenching rains rendered the host for the last 35 years -- En-Joie Golf Club in Endicott, New York -- unplayable.
'When we saw the flooding, we knew it was going to be an issue,' said Brooks. 'We are lucky to be here...They did not have long, and these guys were ready.'
Bohn opened his title defense with seven birdies and just one bogey for a 6-under 66. Like Brooks, he carded consecutive birdies at the 12th and 13th and the fifth and sixth.
'I feel confident because I am trying to remember the positive memories I had from last year,' said Bohn, who won by a shot in '05 for his first career title. 'Anybody says the words 'B.C. Open,' I am going to have a smile on my face, probably for the rest of my life.'
Frazar also carded seven birdies and one bogey to tie Bohn for second place at minus-6. His bogey came at the 17th -- just like Brooks and Bohn.
'No. 17 is just a hard hole today, especially into the left-to-right wind,' Frazar said. 'It is hard to hit the fairway. That was about the only bad hole I had.'
Tied for fourth place at 5-under-par 67 are Omar Uresti, Matt Gogel, Daisuke Maruyama, Scott Gutschewski, Gabriel Hjertstedt, Scott Gump, Ryuji Imada, John Rollins, B.J. Staten and Jason Schultz.