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Top of leaderboard crowded at U.S. Senior Open
U.S. Senior Open
spt ap US Senior Open Watson
Tom Watson surveys the third hole green during the first round of the 34th Annual U.S. Senior Open on Thursday in Omaha, Neb. - photo by The Associated Press

OMAHA, Neb. — It’s never been so crowded at the top of the U.S. Senior Open leaderboard.
When Tom Lehman chipped in from 45 feet on the 18th hole Thursday, he joined six others at 3-under 67 for the first round at the Omaha Country Club.
There had never been as many as seven co-leaders after the opening round of the event. The previous record was five in 1997.
“In one round, 18 holes, it’s like a sprint,” Lehman said. “Over the course of four rounds, which is more like a marathon, things really do spread out. The field will thin out.”
Kenny Perry shot a 67 in the morning, putting together a solid start in his bid for a second straight win in a senior major. Michael Allen and Jay Don Blake also were 3 under after their morning rounds, and Gary Hallberg, Mark O’Meara, Fred Funk and Lehman came in with the same score in the afternoon.
The hilly 6,700-yard course took a toll on the field of golfers age 50 and older, especially in the afternoon as temperatures reached the upper 80s with a light breeze. The small and undulating greens browned up in the heat and proved dicey.
“When you get tough conditions and you’re playing good, you get rewarded,” Funk said. “More than likely, the guy that’s playing the best in these kind of conditions will be at the top. Hopefully, it will be me.”
Perry, who won the Senior Players Championship two weeks ago at Fox Chapel, Pa., made five birdies against two bogeys.
The season points leader started on the back nine and had birdies on three of his first eight holes. He hit an 8-iron to within 10 feet on the par-3 11th, drove the green on the 312-yard, par-4 13th, and hit hybrid-pitching wedge on the 319-yard, par-4 17th and made his 15-foot putt.
He birdied both par-5s on his second nine, but came away a bit disappointed after missing a 5-foot eagle putt on No. 6.
“I took care of the par 5s today and drove it nicely, kept it in the fairway, kept it in play,” Perry said. “Like I said yesterday, if I hit it in the fairway, I really like my chances on this golf course.”
Lehman, the 2012 Champions Tour points and money leader, overcame a bogey on No. 8 with three birdies on the back nine — none bigger than the one on 18.
His second shot came to rest in thick grass to the right of the green. He used an 8-iron for his chip and watched it roll downhill slowly into the cup for what ranked as the shot of the day.
“The lie was a little bit squirrely,” Lehman said. “The grass was growing against the ball so it’s easy to kind of not catch it cleanly. I took less loft and kind of hit it a little bit thin. Once it gets out on the green, it’s going to get down there.”
Chien Soon Lu, Peter Senior, Rocco Mediate and 2010 champion Bernhard Langer shots 68s. Colin Montgomerie, who turned 50 last month and is playing in his second senior event, was in a pack that was two shots behind.
Defending champion Roger Chapman struggled with his putter and was seven shots behind after a 74.
Tom Watson, who played with Langer and Montgomerie and drew the largest galleries of the day, struggled with his irons while shooting a 70 that included one birdie and one bogey.
“I hit a few good shots today, but for the most part, my shots weren’t very solid,” Watson said. “One good thing about it was that I got about the best score I possibly could out of my round.”
Fred Couples, coming off three straight runner-up finishes on the Champions Tour, had a 1-over 71.
Couples, like others, had difficulty figuring out the speed of the greens. The recent heat wave has put stress on them, and warmer temperatures are forecast this weekend.
“They’re suffering,” Lehman said. “And there’s differing kinds of grass. That’s probably the biggest thing. It’s not 100 percent pure. So the heat affects them each differently, which is why you see that spotty stuff. That kind of makes the putts really not quite as true as you would hope for.”



At Omaha Neb.
Omaha Country Club

First Round
Jay Don Blake    32-35—67
Michael Allen    32-35—67
Kenny Perry    34-33—67
Gary Hallberg    35-32—67
Tom Lehman    35-32—67
Mark O’Meara    34-33—67
Fred Funk    34-33—67
Chien Soon Lu    36-32—68
Peter Senior    33-35—68
Bernhard Langer    33-35—68
Rocco Mediate    34-34—68
Jeff Brehaut    34-35—69
Steve Lowery    35-34—69
Colin Montgomerie    33-36—69
Kohki Idoki    35-34—69
Jeff Sluman    37-32—69
Eduardo Romero    33-36—69
Kevin Coombs    35-34—69
Corey Pavin    36-33—69
Walt Chapman    38-31—69
Stan Utley    35-35—70
Tom Watson    36-34—70
Duffy Waldorf    33-37—70
Tom Kite    35-35—70
Peter Horrobin    34-36—70
George Forster    34-36—70
Chris Williams    35-35—70
David Eger    36-34—70
Peter Fowler    34-36—70
Kirk Triplett    36-34—70
Steve Elkington    34-36—70
Dan Forsman    32-38—70
Brian Henninger    36-35—71
Paul Wesselingh    35-36—71
Gary Koch    36-35—71
Larry Mize    37-34—71
J.K. Kim    36-35—71
Pete Busch    34-37—71
Bob Flanagan    36-35—71
Jeff Hart    35-36—71
Fred Couples    35-36—71
Esteban Toledo    33-38—71
Joe Ozaki    37-34—71
Jerry Pate    32-39—71
Craig Stevens    34-37—71
Mark Mielke    33-38—71
Bruce Vaughan    35-37—72
Gary Wolstenholme    37-35—72
Steve Pate    36-36—72
Joe Daley    35-37—72
Mike Reid    34-38—72
D.A. Weibring    37-35—72
Joey Sindelar    35-37—72
Sean Knapp    34-38—72
Bart Bryant    36-36—72
Mark McNulty    37-35—72
John Riegger    36-36—72
David Frost    35-37—72
Mark Calcavecchia    37-35—72
John Cook    34-38—72
Bruce Zabriski    35-37—72
Jack Ferenz    37-36—73
Jim Carter    38-35—73
Joel Edwards    35-38—73
George Zahringer    36-37—73
Barry Lane    39-34—73
Jay Haas    37-36—73
Gil Morgan    34-39—73
Larry Nelson    36-37—73
Greg Bruckner    38-35—73
Mikael Hogberg    35-38—73
Jeff Freeman    36-37—73
Rod Spittle    36-37—73
Gene Jones    36-37—73
Mike Goodes    37-36—73
Gene Sauers    39-34—73
Scott Simpson    36-37—73
Jim Sobb    37-36—73
Vic Wilk    34-39—73
John Pate    38-36—74
Jeff Wilson    36-38—74
Tim Thelen    37-37—74
Lance Ten Broeck    36-38—74
Don Pooley    34-40—74
Jack Hall    34-40—74
Denny Dolci    36-38—74
Doug Rohrbaugh    38-36—74
Jeff Roth    37-37—74
Doug Hanzel    38-36—74
Dick Mast    37-37—74
Michael McCoy    36-38—74
Tom Pernice Jr.    38-36—74
Roger Chapman    35-39—74
Hale Irwin    37-37—74
Andrew Morse    35-39—74
David Carich    35-39—74
Jerry Vidovic    34-41—75
Mark Wiebe    38-37—75
Bob Tway    35-40—75
Willie Wood    39-36—75
Kym Olsen    38-37—75
Todd Hendley    36-39—75
Steve Gotsche    39-36—75
Brad Faxon    37-39—76
Bill Glasson    39-37—76
Gerry Simoni    40-36—76
Bruce Nakamura    41-35—76
Tom Brandes    37-39—76
Hunter Nelson    38-38—76
Mike San Filippo    38-38—76
Scott Hoch    39-37—76
Steve Jones    38-38—76
David Ladd    38-38—76
Loren Roberts    39-37—76
Tom Hale    38-38—76
Robin Byrd    38-38—76
Ken McDonald    38-38—76
Tom Purtzer    39-38—77
John Huston    38-39—77
Bill Israelson    40-38—78
Bob Gilder    39-39—78
Jeff New    39-39—78
Troy Schleicher    40-38—78
Stacey Hart    42-36—78
Steve Wells    40-38—78
Roy Vucinich    37-41—78
Curtis Skinner    38-40—78
Jeff Whitfield    40-38—78
Emile Vaughan    39-39—78
James Camaione    38-40—78
Bill Loeffler    39-40—79
Don Reycroft    40-39—79
Matt Sughrue    38-41—79
Jeff Belk    40-39—79
Mike Hulbert    40-39—79
Paul Simson    38-41—79
Dave Eichelberger    40-39—79
Marty Verdegaal    39-40—79
Mark Elliott    41-38—79
Kirk Maynord    38-41—79
Mark Costaregni    42-38—80
Kirk Nelson    42-38—80
Trevor Dodds    39-41—80
John Gagai    38-42—80
Tommy Brennan    41-40—81
Rex Hughes    39-42—81
Don Thames    37-44—81
George Roat    41-40—81
Lee Houtteman    39-43—82
Bruce Stewart    40-42—82
Kevin Hayashi    40-42—82
Nelson Long    43-40—83
Sam Manning    42-42—84
Matt Hall    41-44—85
Graham Marsh    44-43—87
Peter Jacobsen    WD