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Roberts Shares Lead at JELD-WEN

2006 Jeld-Wen TraditionALOHA, Ore. -- Loren Roberts had 17 days off before teeing it up as a defending champion for the first time on the Champions Tour.
Thursday, he showed little rust in earning a share of the first round lead at the final professional golf major of the year.
Wayne Levi
Wayne Levi is looking to join Loren Roberts and Bobby Wadkins as senior major champions.
'I thought 4 or 5 under would be a good way to start,' Roberts said after opening with a 5-under 67 at the JELD-WEN Tradition, where he claimed his first Seniors title last year in a playoff.
'It takes a day or two to get back into the groove after time off.'
That last statement should give the rest of the field pause, including first round co-leaders Bobby Wadkins and Wayne Levi.
Roberts, 51, hasn't played since finishing tied for sixth place at the 3M Championship two weeks ago, yet he reached every green in regulation and bogeyed just one hole Thursday at Reserve Vineyards & Golf Club.
That bogey came with a three-putt at the par-5 sixth -- a rarity for the man they call 'The Boss of the Moss.'
'I played very solid,' said Roberts, who has added four more wins this season, including his second major at the Senior British Open last month. 'Sure, three-putts rile me up, but I worked with my coach last week in Memphis.'
One of only a handful of players who have a legitimate chance at catching Roberts for the Schwab Cup, Wadkins is looking like a resurgent weekly challenger.
After winning his inaugural start on the Champions Tour at the 2001 Long Island Classic, Wadkins, 55, went four calendar years before claiming victory again, something he has done twice this year.
On Thursday, he mixed seven birdies with a pair of bogeys to join Roberts and Levi at the top. The key to his resurgence, he says, is his play with the flat stick.
'I think I've putted better this year than I have in my life,' said Wadkins, whose longest birdie putt Thursday came from 35 feet. 'Things have kind of fallen into place. It's been a very good year.'
Levi, 54, is seeking his third Champions Tour victory after winning once in 2003 and 2004. His best finish this season came last week -- a tie for third place at the Greater Seattle Classic.
Plagued by three-putts this summer, Levi three-putted twice in his round on Thursday, but also holed out from the fairway for an eagle at the third.
'That got me going,' said Levi, who also had six birdies in his round.
Elsewhere on Thursday, scores were very low with 40 players in a field of 79 shooting even-par or better at the fifth and final Champions Tour major of the season.
Tom Kite, last week's winner at the Greater Seattle Classic and the 2000 JELD- WEN champion, is tied for fourth place with Keith Fergus at 4-under 68.
Mark McCumber, Curtis Strange and Lonnie Nielsen share sixth place at 3-under 69 -- one shot ahead of seven players who are tied for ninth, including all-time Champions Tour wins leader Hale Irwin.
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - JELD-WEN Tradition
  • Full Coverage - JELD-WEN Tradition
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