Bob Gilder tied the tournament and course record with an 8-under 64 for a two-stroke lead after the opening round of the Constellation Energy Classic on Friday.
Gilder needed only eight putts on the front nine at Hayfields Country Club and finished with just 22 for his lowest round on the Champions Tour since 2003 at the Emerald Coast Classic, his last victory.
Tom Watson and Dan Pohl were tied for second after opening 66s. John Bland, John Jacobs, Larry Nelson, Hajime Meshiai and D.A. Weibring were another shot back, and former major league pitcher Rick Rhoden and two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange were in a group at 4 under.
Gilder got to 8 under through No. 14 and putted for birdie on each of the last four holes, but failed to break the tournament record shared by five players. The 54-year-old Gilder, whose best finish this year is a tie for fourth at the Allianz Championship, made his share of putts over the first 14 holes. Using a modified claw grip, he rolled in five birdie putts of 10 feet or more, including a 25-footer at No. 10. He also chipped in for birdie from 30 feet on No. 6 and saved par with an 11-foot putt at the eighth.
Watson didn't make as many putts, but he hit 17 of 18 greens in regulation. The Senior British Open champ saved a par after driving into the water at the par-5 fifth, the only green he missed, and converted six birdie chances, AP reports.
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