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Kite shoots 63 to lead Bank of America

ASSOCIATED PRESS

CONCORD, Mass. — Tom Kite matched the course record with a 9-under 63 on Friday to take the first-round lead in the Bank of America Championship.

Kite birdied the first three holes at Nashawtuc Country Club and played the front nine in 6-under 30 in the Champions Tour event. Two strokes ahead of Mark McNulty and David Eger, Kite matched Allen Doyle’s tournament record set in 2003.

“It’s nice to have something to get excited about,” said Kite, winless since 2006.

This year, the 57-year-old Kite has one second-place finish, but hasn’t placed in the top 10 since mid-February.

“I’ve had some good moments, but it’s been a little bit of a struggle,” said Kite, whose previous best score this year was 65. “I’ve putted beautifully, but I haven’t struck the ball well. I’ve been working on it, making some swing adjustments.”

Kite hit and putted well Friday with birdie putts of 4, 18 and 18 feet to open his round. Then he made a 30-footer for a birdie on the sixth hole.

His back-nine highlights included a chip-in from the left rough for birdie on the par-4 16th. Kite hit what he thought was a nice drive on the par-5 18th, but his ball landed about a foot into the high rough and he had to lay up. He still had a chance for a birdie — and a tournament record — but missed a 15-footer.

In the last 26 years, eight first-round leaders have gone on to win the event. Bob Gilder was the last in 2002.

Kite, McNulty and defending champion Jay Haas played in the same threesome and had a cumulative score of 20 under. Haas, seeking his third consecutive Champions Tour victory, made the group’s only bogey, on the par-4 12th en route to a 68.

McNulty, the winner in 2005, got his round going with a 40-foot putt for birdie on the par-5 fifth hole.

“There were a lot of birdies out there,” he said. “When everyone plays well, you feed off one another.”

John Morse was four shots off the lead, and Jeff Sluman, Loren Roberts, Hale Irwin were in a large group with Haas at 4 under.

Irwin won at Nashawtuc in 1997 and 1998 and has won more money at this event than any other competitor. He played Friday with Scott Simpson and Curtis Strange, a group of three former U.S. Open winners.

Kite’s best finish at the Bank of America Championship is a tie for second in 2004. He finished third during a memorable 2001 tournament when his tee shot on the par-3 17th struck and killed a bird.

Kite went to that hole one shot behind eventual winner Larry Nelson. Kite’s 7-iron tee shot hit a purple martin while it was flying. Both the bird and Kite’s ball landed in a pond. Kite went on to a double bogey.

Scores with relation to par from the first round of the Bank of America Open, played June 20 at the par-72, 6,741-yard Nashawtuc Country Club in Concord, Mass.:

1. Tom Kite 63

-9 2. Mark McNulty 65

-7 2. David Eger 65

-7 4. John Morse 67

-5 5. Donnie Hammond 68

-4 5. Loren Roberts 68

-4 5. Scott Simpson 68

-4 5. Hale Irwin 68

-4 5. Jay Haas 68

-4 5. Mike Reid 68

-4 5. Mark W. Johnson 68

-4 5. Bruce Lietzke 68

-4 5. Jeff Sluman 68

-4 5. Phil Blackmar 68

-4 5. Joe Ozaki 68

-4 5. Massy Kuramoto 68

-4 17. Tom McKnight 69

-3 17. James Mason 69

-3 17. Dana Quigley 69

-3 17. Scott Hoch 69

-3 17. Bobby Wadkins 69

-3 17. Tom Jenkins 69

-3 17. R.W. Eaks 69

-3 17. Don Pooley 69

-3 25. Bruce Summerhays 70

-2 25. Gary Hallberg 70

-2 25. Chip Beck 70

-2 25. Mark Wiebe 70

-2 25. Curtis Strange 70

-2 25. Brad Bryant 70

-2 25. John Cook 70

-2 25. Mark James 70

-2 25. John Harris 70

-2 25. Graham Marsh 70

-2 25. Joey Sindelar 70

-2 36. Kirk Hanefeld 71

-1 36. Jim Chancey 71

-1 36. Ron Streck 71

-1 36. Keith Fergus 71

-1 36. Bob Gilder 71

-1 36. Fulton Allem 71

-1 36. Dave Eichelberger 71

-1 36. Wayne Grady 71

-1 44. Mitch Adams 72

E 44. Bruce Vaughan 72

E 44. Hugh Baiocchi 72

E 44. Tom Purtzer 72

E 44. Morris Hatalsky 72

E 44. David Edwards 72

E 44. Ed Dougherty 72

E 51. Mike McCullough 73
+ 1 51. Leonard Thompson 73
+ 1 51. Mike Hulbert 73
+ 1 51. Jim Thorpe 73
+ 1 51. Lonnie Nielsen 73
+ 1 51. D.A. Weibring 73
+ 1 51. Andy Bean 73
+ 1 51. Denis Watson 73
+ 1 51. Gary Player 73
+ 1 51. Tim Simpson 73
+ 1 51. Dale Douglass 73
+ 1 51. Jim Albus 73
+ 1 51. Gene Jones 73
+ 1 51. Dick Mast 73
+ 1 65. Walter Hall 74
+ 2 65. Fred Gibson 74
+ 2 65. Bruce Fleisher 74
+ 2 65. Dave Stockton 74
+ 2 69. Jim Dent 75
+ 3 69. Isao Aoki 75
+ 3 69. Tom Wargo 75
+ 3 72. Allen Doyle 76
+ 4 72. Craig Stadler 76
+ 4 72. Graham Banister 76
+ 4 75. Jack Ferenz 77
+ 5 76. Mark Morrison 79
+ 7 77. Jim Colbert 80
+ 8 77. Wayne Levi 80
+ 8

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