Kite Among SBC Leaders

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2004 SBC ChampionshipSAN ANTONIO, Texas -- Tom Kite fired a 5-under-par 66 on Friday to join Dave Stockton, James Mason and Tom Jenkins atop the leaderboard after the first round of the SBC Championship.
 
Mark McNulty and Jim Thorpe, a pair of winners this season on the Champions Tour, each posted rounds of 4under-par 67 and share fifth place at Oak Hills Country Club.
 
Kite did not start out very strong on Friday, but did hole a clutch 9-footer for par at the first. He sank a 6-foot par save at No. 3, but three-putted from 15 feet for bogey at the fourth hole. Kite reached the green in two at the 610-yard, par-5 fifth and two-putted for a birdie.
 
Kite, the 1992 U.S. Open winner, parred out on the front nine, but wasted little time in breaking into red figures on the back side. He blasted out to 8 feet to set up birdie at the par-5 10th, then tapped in a 3-footer for birdie at 11. Kite knocked an 8-iron to 9 feet to set up his third birdie in a row at No. 12.
 
He hit a 4-iron to the back of the green at the par-5 15th, and chipped to 5 feet. Kite made the birdie putt, then tallied his fifth birdie of the back nine at 16 when he rolled in an 18-footer.
 
'I kept thinking something would happen on the front nine and finally something did for me on the back nine,' said Kite, who is trying to break an 0-103 record on both the PGA and Champions Tour in his home state of Texas. 'You think you can shoot a low score every day and you've got to be on your toes.'
 
Stockton, the 1991 U.S. Ryder Cup captain, opened with a 16-footer for birdie at the first, then got up and down for par from 80 feet at the third. He kicked in a three-foot birdie putt at four, then drained a 7-foot par putt at five.
 
Stockton ran home an 8-foot birdie putt at the 10th, then missed the green, but saved par at both 12 and 13. He hit a pitching-wedge to 18 feet and made the putt for birdie at 14, then birdied No. 15 to get a piece of the first-round lead for the first time since the 2001 Toshiba Senior Classic.
 
'I've played well considering my advanced age,' said Stockton, 62, who is winless on the Champions Tour since the 1997 Franklin Quest Championship. 'I'm not under the strain that some of these guys are under.'
 
Mason birdied the first, then made a pair of nice par saves at three and four. He airmailed the green with a sand-wedge that led to bogey at the sixth, but a 7-foot birdie putt at nine allowed him to make the turn at 1-under-par 34.
 
Mason had an up-and-down back nine, but holed a 7-foot birdie putt at the 11th. He snaked in a 15-foot par save at 12, then hit a 3-iron to 5 feet to set up birdie at the 13th. Mason once again drained a 15-footer for par at No. 14 and collected another birdie at 15. He hit a 7-iron to 5 feet at the last to join the group in the lead.
 
'I played well and made some key putts,' said Mason, whose only win on the Champions Tour came at the 2002 NFL Golf Classic. 'I've got two more rounds. It's good to be here today, but I want to be here on Sunday.'
 
Jenkins, a five-time winner on the elder circuit, including this year's Blue Angels Classic, recorded four birdies and two bogeys over his first six holes. He made a 20-foot birdie putt at the eighth to make the turn at 3-under 32.
 
On the back nine, Jenkins missed the green with a 5-wood at the par-3 13th. That resulted in a bogey, but the 56-year-old atoned for the mistake with a 20-foot eagle putt at the 15th. Jenkins sank a 12-foot birdie putt at the 16th to get into the logjam atop the leaderboard.
 
'It was a good day for golf,' said Jenkins. 'I felt pretty good even though I made some bogeys. You've got to hang in there.'
 
Hale Irwin, who leads the season-long Charles Schwab Cup race by a point over defending champion Craig Stadler, shot a 3-under 68 and is tied for seventh with Lonnie Nielsen, Joe Inman, Dave Barr, Raymond Floyd, Allen Doyle, Jay Sigel, Morris Hatalsky, Dana Quigley, Bruce Summerhays, Gary McCord, Des Smyth and Jerry Pate.
 
Stadler struggled in the opening round of his title defense. He carded a 3-over 74 and is tied for 60th place.
 
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