NAPLES, Fla. – Nick Price had a hole-in-one and teamed with fellow Champions Tour player Mark Calcavecchia for a 9-under 63 and a share of the lead with PGA Champion Keegan Bradley and Brendan Steele on Friday in the Franklin Templeton Shootout.
Price also made a 30-foot birdie putt on the final hole in the modified alternate-shot format. Bradley and Steele played the final six holes in 7 under in the first round on Tiburon Golf Club’s Gold Course.
Jerry Kelly and Steve Stricker, the longtime friends from Madison, Wis., who won the 2009 event, were a stroke back, and Rickie Fowler and Camilo Villegas were two shots back. The 12 two-man teams will play a better-ball round Saturday and close with a scramble Sunday in the $3 million event.
Price’s 4-iron shot from 213 yards on No. 12 hopped a couple of times and rolled right into the cup.
“We’re 4 under through 11 holes, which we didn’t really take advantage I think of the good start we got off to,” Price said. “And then what can you say when you make a hole-in-one? We go from 4 to 6 under, and now we’re really looking at shooting a decent score today or a low score. It just got better and better.”
It was the second hole-in-one in tournament history. Tim Clark made the other on No. 12 in the final round last year. It was Price’s first in competition since the 1997 NEC World Series of Golf.
Price and Calcavecchia are trying to become the first Champions Tour duo to win the event. Calcavecchia also is seeking his third title after winning with Woody Austin in 2007 and Steve Elkington in 1995.
Bradley and Steele pointed to a 30-footer for bogey from off the green on No. 9.
“It was a big putt,” Bradley said. “And the thing that was unbelievable was my putt was going to go by 6 or 7 feet. It was cooking. So next thing you know, it turns into a double – 6 or 7, who knows? But that’s the beautiful part – it went in.”
“Looking at a 6-, 7-footer for double in this format, that might have been the end of our tournament, but that going in, and then how quickly the momentum can change,” Steele said. “We felt as good as we could feel, walking off that green with a bogey.”
Steele made a 12-footer on No. 11, Bradley added a 15-footer on No. 13, Steele holed out for eagle from a greenside bunker on No. 14, Bradley made a 10-footer on No. 15, and Steele made a 40-footer from off the green on No. 16. Steele was near the lip of the bunker on No. 17, and got it out well enough for Bradley to make a birdie. On No. 18, Bradley hit his drive 367 yards, leaving Steele with just 91 yards to the green. He hit it to 6 feet, and Bradley made the putt.
Kelly and Stricker eagled No. 17 and birdied No. 18. On the par-5 17th, Stricker got his second shot on the green, and Kelly made a long putt.
“He had been talking about getting the big bird all the way up there,” Stricker said. “As soon as it left the putter he said, `Get in!’ The power of your brain sometimes leads to good things. We had been talking about making a 3 there a couple holes prior. It was a good way to finish the round.”
Jason Dufner and Sean O’Hair opened with a 66, the teams of Rory Sabbatini-Jhonattan Vegas, Kenny Perry-Scott Stallings and Anthony Kim-Webb Simpson followed at 67, and Chris DiMarco-Chad Campbell and Charles Howell III-Justin Leonard were at 68. Tournament host Greg Norman and Scott McCarron shot a 69, and Stewart Cink and Bo Van Pelt were last at 70.