SNOQUALMIE – While many of the big names, including Seattle native Fred Couples and Bernhard Langer seemed stuck in neutral in the first round of the Boeing Classic, Mike Goodes found birdies aplenty Friday in the Champions Tour event at TPC Snoqualmie Ridge.
Goodes, who didn’t turn pro until he was 50, shot an 8-under-par 64 to take a one-shot lead over Mark Brooks, who won the PGA Championship in 1996. A group of five that includes two-time Boeing Classic runner-up Mark O’Meara were another shot back.
The old golf adage that you can’t win a tournament in the first round has proved particularly true here as no first-round leader has won in the nine previous events.
But it also goes that you can shoot yourself out of the tournament in the first round. Langer, who has won six times on the Champions Tour this year, still has a chance, as does Couples, but their task is much harder after opening with 70 and 71, respectively.
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“A 71, that’s pretty mediocre, isn’t it?” said Couples, tied for 37th. “I haven’t played that much so I am not just going to show up and shoot a 66. But it’s another round under my belt. I probably need to shoot something like a 64 (Saturday).”
Couples was 2 under after 13 holes, then missed a 4-footer for birdie on the 14th. He made a three-putt bogey on the par-5 15th, then bogeyed the 16th. He had a two-putt birdie on the 18th hole to get to 1 under.
Goodes’ day could not have started much better. He holed out from the bunker on the first hole for an eagle. He played the par 5s in 5 under and had six birdies and no bogeys. That put him in a position to win for the first time since 2009, his only Champions Tour victory.
“I’m craving it,” he said of getting another win. “I’m dying to win, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you will. You hope you play well enough to come to the last handful of holes and have a chance. It’s such a thrill and that’s what you dream and pray for every week.”
Goodes, 57, owns a packaging company and is a partner in a plastics-recycling business. The North Carolinian said he is living a fantasy by competing against players like Langer and Couples.
“People tell me all the time, ‘You’re living a dream,’ and it’s the truth,” he said.
Langer, who has been in the top 10 in a remarkable 15 of 16 events this year, is tied for 22nd.
“I had some poor chip shots, otherwise I could have been two to three (strokes) better,” he said. “I am not out of it. We have two days left to go. I’d like to be closer, but that’s golf.”
Seattle’s Rick Fehr shot an even-par 72, coming back from a triple bogey on the second hole of his round and is tied for 46th. Blaine’s Jeff Coston shot a 4-under 68 and is tied for 13th.
Defending champion John Riegger shot a 1-over 73, tied for 58th.