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Eastwood Opens Strong in Key Biscayne

Bob Eastwood seems to understand the nature of the game this week on the Senior PGA Tour just fine. The event is called the Royal Caribbean Classic. The format is named Modified Stableford. And the word of the day is birdie.
On Friday, the two-time winner on the 50-and-older circuit chalked up a total of eight of the red numbers at the East Crandon Golf Club, more than anyone else in the field.
Against just two bogies, the round brought him a total of +14 points, three more than Andy North and Rex Caldwell in second place, and four more than Walter Hall and John Bland. They each ended on +10 points.
In this format of play, it is the aggressive game that is rewarded more times than not. Double-eagles count for eight points, eagles count for five points, birdies are good for two and pars are worth no score. A bogey counts as minus-one point, and minus-three is the score for anything worse than that.
Hence, it pays to make a lot of birdies and eagles, even if they are offset with more than a few bogies.
An example of that would be 2000 Senior Tour Player of the Year Larry Nelson. For the day, Nelson shot a round of 3-under 69, which saw him record three birdies against no bogies. It was a picturesque round by all standards. But he only earned +6 points for it and sits in joint 7th place.
On the other hand, Caldwell shot a 4-under 68, just one stroke better than Nelson. Yet, because he made a full seven birdies, offset by three bogies, he finished Day 1 with +11 points, and is right in contention entering Saturday.
All eyes this weekend will be on the two-time defending champion of this event, however. Should Bruce Fleisher win this week, not only will he break a six-month victory drought on the Senior Tour, but he will also become only the sixth man to ever win a tournament three years running.
Fleisher had a decent first day, but he will need to pick up the pace in a big way this weekend if he hopes to successfully defend for a third time running.
Flash finished the day with +4 points, complements of a 1-under 71. He is tied for 26th place heading into Saturday.
Click here for Full-Field scores from the Royal Caribbean Classic!