Sluman sets pace at Pebble
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Defending champion Jeff Sluman shot a bogey-free 7-under 65 on Friday at Del Monte Golf Course to take a one-stroke over lead Loren Roberts and Olin Browne in the Champions Tour’s Walmart First Tee Open.
Sluman has five top-10 finishes this season, but hasn’t won since his Walmart victory last year. A six-winner on the PGA Tour, he’s 15th on the 50-and-over tour’s money list with $722,964.
“It started off a little cold,” said Sluman, who opened on the back nine and birdied his first two holes. “But I was able to capitalize on the par 5s.”
“It was a nice solid round with routine birdies, not too out of the ordinary. I kept the ball in play and it’s an opportunity golf course.”
The full-field Champions Tour event also features 78 junior players and 156 amateurs playing in two simultaneous two-player and four-player team competitions.
Browne and Roberts shot 66s at Del Monte.
“I had to work to get up and down on a few holes,” said Browne, making his eighth Champions Tour start. “My game has been spotty, so it’s good to get a tournament started with a little confidence.”
Tom Kite, who also played at Del Monte, and Mark O’Meara, who had the low score at Pebble Beach, were tied at 67. O’Meara won the PGA Tour’s Pebble Beach event a record five times, the last in 1997 when he shot four 67s for a tournament-record 268 total. He also won the 1979 California State Amateur at Pebble Beach.
Mark McNulty, Gene Jones, David Eger, John Cook, Nice Price and former tournament winner Scott Simpson shot 68s.
Tom Watson, who celebrated his 60th birthday Friday, had a 70 at Del Monte.
Greg Norman, playing in the event for the first time, opened with a 69.
The field will alternate courses the first two rounds, with the final round scheduled set for Pebble Beach.