On the opening round of the 2017 U.S. Senior Open Championship Kirk Triplett shot an 8-under 62 to match the lowest round in a PGA Tour Champions major at Salem Country Club.
On a day that saw 40 players break par, Kirk Triplett matched the PGA Champions Tour major record with an 8-under 62 to take a one-stroke leader over Olin Browne. Triplett missed a 7-footer on his final hole that would have broken the tie with Loren Roberts, who shot the only previous 62, in the third round of the 2006 U.S. Senior Open at Prairie Dunes.
Triplett is the 10th player to shoot 62 in a senior major — including Browne, who did it at the Senior Players Championship in 2012 and missed it by one stroke on the opening day on Thursday.
Thirteen players have shot 63 in a USGA Open championship. That total stood at 11 before Justin Thomas made a closing eagle in the third round of the U.S. Open at Erin Hills 12 days ago, and Olin Browne completed his own 63 at Salem on Thursday, about a half-n-hour before Triplett went one better.
Doug Garwood finished one shot behind Browne at 6-under 64, while six players – half in the morning, half in the afternoon – were tied for fourth after posting 5-under 65s, including 2013 Senior Open champion Kenny Perry.
The highlight of Triplett’s round was an eagle 2 on the 341-yard, par-4 fourth hole, and his 13th of the day when he holed a 9-iron from 115 yards. Starting out on No. 10, he knocked a 9-iron to 2 feet to immediately get into red figures, then avoided his most likely bogey prospect of the day, knocking in a 20-footer for par on No. 11 after a poor first putt. He reeled off birdies on Nos. 13-15, and added his final two birdies on Holes 1 and 3 before the eagle got him to 8 under. The 62 also broke the competitive course record at Salem, which has hosted five previous USGA championships, including the 2001 U.S. Senior Open.
Robby Funk and Matt Sughrue, the runner-up in the 2016 U.S. Senior Amateur, shot 1-under 69s to lead the way among the 20 amateurs in the field. They were among 40 players to post under-par scores in the 156-player field, which broke the single-round record for under-par scores by one (39 players at Inverness Club in Round 2 of the 2011 Senior Open).
Two-time champion Hale Irwin matched his age with a round of 2-over 72 while defending champion Gene Sauers, whose first PGA Tour victory came 31 years ago in Sutton, Mass., opened with a 3-over 73.