PEBBLE BEACH, California – Mark Calcavecchia shot an 8-under 64 on Friday at Del Monte to take a two-stroke lead over Tom Pernice Jr. in the Champions Tour’s First Tee Open.
Calcavecchia, in his first season on the 50-and-over tour after winning 13 times on the PGA Tour, capped his bogey-free first round with a birdie on the par-5 ninth hole to equal his career low on the senior circuit.
“Overall, I drove it well,” said Calcavecchia, the 1989 British Open winner who played Del Monte for the first time since 1982. “I made five birdies within 4 feet.”
Pernice, playing his first full season on the tour, birdied five of the first six holes at Pebble Beach, then had 10 straight pars and birdied the 17th en route to a 66.
“I putted nice today,” Pernice said. “If you hit your irons well you’ve got a to score here. I made two nice pars to keep the round going.”
Fred Couples, Bob Tway, Tom Kite, Wayne Levi and 2006 winner Scott Simpson opened with 67s at Del Monte, and Chip Beck and Olin Browne had 67s at Pebble Beach – the site of the final round Sunday.
Two-time defending champion Jeff Sluman had a 68 at Del Monte.
Calcavecchia had four birdies on the front and back nines, but his stellar round wasn’t based on memory. Calcavecchia last played Del Monte 28 years ago when the course was used as qualifier for the Hawaiian Open.
“I didn’t remember any of the holes, but it’s a tricky course,” said Calcavecchia, who turned 50 in June. “You can’t get it on the wrong side of the hole.”
Tom Watson, who will be 61 on Saturday, shot 73 at Del Monte.
The start of the first round at Del Monte was delayed for 45 minutes because of fog.
The seventh annual event, sponsored for the first year by Home Care & Hospice, features 78 Champions Tour players paired with a junior player in a corresponding event. The top 22 pro-junior teams and top 10 amateur teams will advance to the final round.