THE WOODLANDS, Texas – U.S. Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin shot a 6-under-par 66 Friday for a one-shot lead after the first round of the Champions Tour’s Administaff Small Business Classic.
Pavin didn’t play golf for a 45-day period while serving as the Ryder team captain. He returned two weeks ago and tied for 57th in the Senior Players Championships and then rested last week.
Pavin started fast with a 4-foot birdie putt on the first hole and had long birdie putts of 12 feet at No. 5 and 25 feet at No. 7 to make the turn 3 under.
He kept his putter working with 12-foot birdies at Nos. 10 and 11. He missed a 7-foot putt on No. 14 for a bogey, but recovered with birdie putts on Nos. 15 and 18. He also had a par-saving 6-foot putt on No. 17.
Mark Wiebe birdied three of the final six holes for a 67 in a steady round that included five birdies and no bogeys. Two more shots back was Russ Cochran, who had to overcome back-to-back bogeys on Nos. 8 and 9.
Ten other players, including defending Charles Schwab Cup champion Loren Roberts, finished with 2-under 70s.
Kenny Perry, with 14 victories on the PGA Tour, made his Champions Tour debut with a 6-over 78 after starting the day with eight consecutive pars. He had a double-bogey on No. 9 to kick off a rough finish.
Steve Lowery, also making his Champions Tour debut, shot 75. Defending champion John Cook shot even par.
Schwab Cup leader Bernhard Langer shot a 79 and Fred Couples, current runner-up in the standings, had a 71.
Wiebe started on the back nine with three pars before running in a 25-foot birdie putt on No. 13 and a 2-foot birdie on the 15th.
He birdied again on No. 4 from 6 feet and at No. 6 from 30 feet, then pulled within one shot of the lead with another 30-footer from the fringe on his final hole.