SNOQUALMIE – Bart Bryant, who won the Champions Tour’s 1,000th tournament last week in Endicott, N.Y., took a big step toward winning No. 1,001, holding a one-shot lead after the first round of the Boeing Classic on Friday with a 6-under 66.
But before Bryant starts practicing a victory speech, he might want to consider that no first-round leader has won this three-day event, which began in 2005.
“The odds are with me then, right?” Bryant joked. “Because it has to happen sometime.”
Duffy Waldorf holed out from the bunker on the 18th hole to finish a shot back at 67, along with Bobby Clampett, the longtime CBS announcer, who had a bogey-free round at TPC Snoqualmie Ridge.
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Among those also close are Pullman High graduate Kirk Triplett, who shot a 68, and Seattle native Fred Couples, who opened with a 69. Seattle native Rick Fehr shot a 77.
Bryant birdied his first hole, then made birdies on four straight holes starting at the third to kick-start his round.
“I was off to a dream start, and then I kind of ran out of steam on the final few holes,” said Bryant, 50, a rookie on the Champions Tour who missed almost all of the past three years after two major surgeries on his left wrist. “But a 66, I would have taken that to start the day. In fact, I’ll take that every day the rest of my life.”
Bryant, who said there were times he wondered if would ever play again after losing all the cartilage in the wrist, said he talked to his wife and caddie this week about returning strong after winning on Sunday in New York.
He can check that off after opening his third straight tournament with a 66.
“On the PGA Tour, the three times I won, every time I just fell apart the next week,” he said.
Another player who got off to a great start was Bernhard Langer, who tied the front-nine record with a 5-under 31, and finished with a 68, along with Dick Mast and Triplett. Langer won the Boeing Classic in 2010, one month after he won the U.S. Senior Open at Sahalee Country Club in Sammamish.
Waldorf turned 50 just before this event last year and shot a 75 in his first round on the Champions Tour.
“I thought if I can just sneak under 75, that would be a great way to start,” said Waldorf, who beat that score by eight shots. “I’m very excited to be back to my first tournament. You kind of have a little bit of an easier feeling when you’ve played the course before in competition.”
Clampett tied his best round of the year. His best finish this year is a tie for 29th.
“I feel like my game’s coming around and things are starting to click,” said Clampett, who has written an instruction book and has plans to write two more. “But it’s pretty hard to win out here, no doubt about it.”
Couples got to 4 under after a birdie on the 14th hole, his third in four holes, which delighted the huge gallery. But he made a bogey on the par-3 17th and settled for a par on the par-5 18th.
“I easily should have been one better than I shot,” Couples said.
But he is in position to win, just like many others.
Scott Hanson: 206-464-2943