LAKE ORION, Mich. (AP) — Tom Kite set a U.S. Senior Open record with a 28 on the front nine at Indianwood and finished a 5-under 65 on Thursday.
Corey Pavin's sixth birdie on his 17th hole pulled him into a tie atop the leaderboard, but a penalty pushed him back to the pack after completing his first round.
Pavin hit a chip after his ball moved back a fraction of an inch when he grounded his club on his 14th hole and that later cost him two strokes.
"Yeah, I agree," he said after watching slow-motion replays of the infraction with officials in a TV trailer.
That setback put Bernhard Langer and Lance Ten Broeck in second place, one shot behind Kite. It pushed Pavin into a five-way tie for fourth with Fred Funk, Jeff Sluman, Tom Pernice Jr. and Mikael Hogberg at 3-under 67.
"Still a very good score," Pavin said. "I just like the way I played. That's the important thing now. There's three more rounds and lots of time to make it up and lots of golf left."
Kite, who matched the lowest nine-hole score of his career on the front nine, is confident his window to win on the Champions Tour hasn't closed.
The 62-year-old Kite expects players like him to have success more than a decade into their career on the 50-and-over circuit because they're staying in shape and relentlessly working on their game.
"You probably haven't read, but 60 is the new 40," Kite said.
Kite, whose season-best finish was a tie for second four months ago at the Toshiba Classic, hasn't won on the Champions Tour since 2008.
He put himself in a position to end the drought on the front nine with an eagle from 155 yards at the 424-yard, par-4 No. 4 with a blind shot over a hill.
"The gallery let me know it went in the hole," Kite said. "So it must have run out nicely out of that semi-rough."
Kite also had five birdies before making the turn, leaving his playing partners — Peter Jacobsen and Scott Simpson — to marvel at his seven-under front nine.
"I felt like the Washington Generals playing against the Harlem Globetrotters out there," Jacobsen said. "He didn't miss a shot on the front nine."
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