Bernhard Langer bucked the trend on the back nine at Indianwood Golf & Country Cub to move within one stroke of leader Tom Kite at the US Senior Open in Michigan.
Langer came home in just 31 strokes on the harder of the two nines to move into a share of second place with American Lance Ten Broeck at four under par, just one shy of Kite who smashed all sorts of records with his brilliant opening nine holes of 28 en route to a 65.
Langer, who won this championship in 2010, collected four birdies without a dropped shot on the more difficult nine, which tied Mikael Hogberg for the lowest score for that half of the 28 players under par.
“Drove the ball tremendously,” said Langer, the 1993 and 1995 Masters champion, who hit 11 of 14 fairways. “Hit some really good iron shots. Had lots of opportunities early on and didn't make anything. Made one putt on [the fourth hole] where I made birdie, and then I three‑putted the next hole for bogey. Had lots of chances. Finally, on the back side, I converted a few.”
Indianwood’s Old Course played to a stroke average of 73.319 in the opening round, but Kite proved the best at beating the course.
His front nine was the lowest nine hole score in any USGA Open championship event.
“If you play well, there are some opportunities out there,” Kite said. “But I certainly didn't see any 28s or anything like that.”
“That front nine was a pretty incredible nine holes of golf.”
The 28 is one stroke better than the previous record of 29 recorded four times – by Neal Lancaster twice (1995, U.S. Open, Shinnecock Hills Golf Club; 1996, U.S. Open, Oakland Hills Country Club), by Vijay Singh (2003, U.S. Open, Olympia Fields Country Club), and by defending Senior Open champion Olin Browne, on the second nine of his third round en route to victory last year at Inverness Club.
Kite’s opening nine included five birdies and an eagle two where he holed a 155-yard, 8-iron approach to a blind hole location on the 434-yard, par 4 fourth hole. His five birdie putts were between 12 and 18 feet, and four of the putts came from ideal positions on the green – below the hole.
Roger Chapman, who won the season’s opening Major by capturing the US Senior PGA Championship in May, opened his bid for an historic double with a solid two under par 68, which included five birdies, to finish day one in the top ten in a share of ninth place.
Chapman became the first European to win the US Senior PGA since Jock Hutchison in 1947 when claimed a two shot victory over American John Cook at Harbor Shores, and would join American legends Hale Irwin and Jack Nicklaus and South Africa’s Gary Player as the only players to have won both the US Senior Open and Senior PGA in the same season if he were to pull off another victory.
Barry Lane, Peter Fowler and Andrew Oldcorn are also in the frame with level par rounds .
Starting at the tenth, Oldcorn made three bogeys on his first nine with just the one birdie but picked up two shots coming home, including a birdie on his final hole. The former PGA Champion has already finished runner-up twice this season and currently lies fifth on the Senior Tour Order of Merit.
Fowler, winner of the John Jacobs Trophy as number one last season, had a very similar card to Oldcorn with nines of 37 and 33, while Lane mixed four birdies with four dropped shots to also card a 70.