Australian McKenzie had to win a playoff Tuesday in order to get into the field for the 50-and-older golf tournament that started Friday at The Club at Snoqualmie Ridge.
In a tournament loaded with famous names in golf, the co-first-round leader at the Boeing Classic is an Australian who had to win a playoff Tuesday to get in the tournament.
David McKenzie of Melbourne shares the lead with Jerry Kelly, a fellow 50-year-old PGA Tour Champions rookie. Both shot 7-under-par 65 on Friday at The Club at Snoqualmie Ridge.
McKenzie, who has played on four tours this year but has plenty of game and finished tied for ninth at the Senior Open Championship in Wales, eagled his next-to-last hole to pull into the tie. He had started on the back nine and eagled the par-5 eighth hole when he mishit a 5-iron from a hilly lie in the left rough. Instead of safely going to his desired setup position in front of the green, the ball hooked and rolled onto the green without going into a back bunker. He made the 18-footer.
“That was making the most of a bit of luck,” he said.
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McKenzie earned the last of four Boeing Classic berths up for grabs at the 18-hole Tuesday qualifier at High Cedars Golf Club in Orting by winning a one-hole playoff.
“I was a bit jet-lagged,” he said of the playoff, noting he had arrived Sunday afternoon from an event in Fiji.
Kelly, an all-star high-school hockey player in Madison, Wis., who played golf at the University of Hartford, is a three-time winner on the PGA Tour. He still has playing eligibility on the PGA Tour but prefers the 50-and-older tour.
“I haven’t had a good tournament yet,” Kelly said of his rookie season so far on the PGA Tour Champions. “I hope this is the first one.”
Duffy Waldorf and Marco Dawson, who had a string of seven birdies, are one stroke in back of the leaders after rounds of 66. Canadian Stephen Ames and Scott Parel shot 67s.
Hometown favorite Fred Couples finished at even-par 72 after bogeying the par-4 No. 14 “Canyon Hole” and double-bogeying the par-5 15th.
“Mediocre, but not bad” was Couples’ assessment of the round. A botched wedge shot that rolled into the course’s deepest bunker led to the bogey on No. 14. A divot lie in the rough on the 15th led to the double bogey.
Defending champion Bernhard Langer, trying to become the first three-time winner of the tournament, shot a 70 and is tied for 24th.
No first-round leader ever has won this tournament, which began in 2005. The second-round leader has won seven times.