BOCA RATON, Fla. – A lack of practice didn’t hurt Jay Don Blake in his Champions Tour debut this season.
Blake opened with an 8-under 64 at the Allianz Championship on Friday to take a one-stroke lead over Tom Lehman after the first round of the over-50 circuit’s first full-field event.
“I’m still trying to knock the icicles off my body from living in Utah,” said Blake, who has been busy remodeling his house in St. George. “It’s been crazy with how bad the weather’s been.”
Blake didn’t look rusty or frozen in shooting eight birdies in a bogey-free round on the Old Course at Broken Sound. The 60-degree temperatures felt downright balmy and Blake wasn’t bothered by the occasional drizzle.
“I felt I kept my composure out there and executed the shots I needed to,” said Blake, whose wife, Marci, is his caddy. “You have to make some putts to shoot a round of 64 and I felt like I putted really well.”
Lehman had no complaints about his 65 coming off the PGA stop in Phoenix, where he played 54 holes in 29 hours because of bad weather.
“Bogey-free round – pretty stress-free,” Lehman said. “There were a lot of good scores. The greens were perfect. The wind wasn’t too strong. So if you hit good shots and a few good putts, you could definitely have a good round of golf.
“And I started my round out beautifully. I birdied the first three holes and kind of got the run going right off the bat.”
Lehman was in position to tie Blake with a birdie on the par-5 18th, but he hit a short chip about 9 feet past the pin, then missed the putt and settled for a par.
“It was just disappointing to not make a four with such a good tee shot,” he said. “Chip on 18 didn’t come off the club face like I expected at all. It was a disappointing chip.”
Scott Simpson, Peter Senior, Tom Jenkins and Jeff Sluman were tied for third at 6 under.
Simpson, Senior and Jenkins birdied 7 holes and bogeyed one, while Sluman had six birdies.
Defending champion Bernhard Langer shot a 68 to tie for 14th with seven other players. The German had five birdies to offset a bogey on the par-4 fourth.
Olin Browne hit the third hole-in-one in Allianz Championship history, hitting a 6-iron on the 176-yard eighth. He finished with a 69.
Jim Colbert, the winner of 20 senior titles and the 1995 and 1996 Player of the Year, became the ninth player in Champions Tour history to make his 500th start.
“I feel like I have more game now than I had the last few years,” said Colbert, who shot a 75. “It’s my hobby. I don’t do anything else. And I feel like I’m still working at it.”