BLAINE, Minn. – Jay Haas reeled off four straight birdies to complete a round of 8-under 64 on Friday, taking a share of the lead with John Huston after the first round of the 3M Championship.
Haas, who also recorded a hole-in-one earlier in the round, recorded successive bogeys when he missed short putts on No. 13 and 14 but immediately got back in the groove by sinking a 30-foot putt on No. 15 to start his strong finish.
“That was huge because I’d gone back to 4-under and I was a little disappointed to be only 4-under at that stage because I played pretty well,” Haas said. “I’d been playing beautifully. I was frustrated that I’d given two shots back, but at the same time I felt if I kept playing this way I’m going to get some more chances.”
He hit a wedge to about 5 feet on No. 16, and a 6-iron to about 15 feet on No. 17 to set up more birdies. Haas settled for birdie on the par-5 No. 18 after two-putting from about 10 feet.
“It was a very, very eventful day,” Haas said.
After recording par on the first three holes, Haas’s tee shot with a 5-iron on the 184-yard fourth hole landed about a foot short and bounced into the hole.
“It was probably my best shot ever that went in the hole. It was just a pretty shot from the start,” he said. “I was laughing with Mark (Calcavecchia) because he’d hit a beautiful 5-iron shot about 10 feet left of the hole, and I said walking up to the green, ‘I’d have taken your shot.’ Good shots don’t always go in the hole; great shots don’t always go in the hole.”
Haas drained a 30-footer on No. 5 to begin a string of three straight birdies.
Huston, who has one win in seven Tour starts since turning 50 on June 1, bogeyed the first hole, but made six birdies in a seven-hole span to get to 6-under after the 12th hole. He closed with two straight birdies.
“Everybody knows you’re going to have to shoot low scores here. Fortunately, I was able to get off to a good start today and set myself set up for the weekend,” he said.
Gary Hallberg, Tom Lehman, Peter Senior and Rod Spittle were one shot back at the TPC Twin Cities. Calcavecchia, who finished second last year, was two shots back after a 66. Joining him were David Eger, Kenny Perryand Joey Sindelar.
Brad Faxon, playing in his first event on the Champions Tour, was among a group of nine players shooting 68.
Lehman, a native Minnesotan playing the tournament for the first time, birdied his first three holes, but did not get another until going back-to-back on Nos. 11 and 12.
“I was happy with the way I played. … I drove the ball very well, my iron shots were solid and I rolled the ball decently,” he said. “It’s a good start.”
The combination of mild temperatures, high dew points and little wind meant 53 of the 80 players finished under par.
“You’re going to have to put up 20-under this week,” Senior said. “I don’t think the course is going to play tough enough for the guys to have any sort of problem with it.”
Because of the nearly 2 inches of rain received in the past week, the only complaint was that balls hit off the tee would sometimes stick in the damp fairway and leave mud on the ball, reducing the player’s ability to control a second shot.
“I had four or five shots that did not go within 20, 25 yards of where I wanted them to go,” said Sindelar, who suggested lift, clean and place may want to be used if the course doesn’t dry out.
Defending champion David Frost shot a 1-under 71. No champion has defended his title in the event’s 19-year history.