Scott Parel recorded the only eagle of the day as he took a one-stroke lead after the first round of the weather-affected KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club.
The American eagled the par five fourth hole and carded three further birdies, dropping just one stroke on the formidable par-70 East Course at Oak Hill, the venue which staged The 1995 Ryder Cup.
A two-time winner on the PGA Tour Champions circuit, Parel leads by one stroke from 2015 Senior Open Presented by Rolex champion Marco Dawson, two-time U.S. Open winner Retief Goosen and Ken Tanigawa.
“One of the challenges was trying to judge the wind," said Parel. "It seems like there were maybe a lot of crosswinds, so off the tees trying to figure out maybe it's a little different line you had to take than what you had written in your book to make sure you get in the fairway.
“I've been playing well. I had a second place in Houston a couple weeks ago. Played okay in Birmingham, not so good on the last day. But I've been hitting the ball well, and I think that's obviously a key for out here, is you have to be in the fairway. If you're playing out of the rough, you're scrambling for par most of the time.”
Just 15 competitors finished their first rounds under par, as the morning groups faced a two hour and 15 minute delay due to dangerous weather during their rounds – of those 15, three came from the afternoon tee times.
Those under par include Staysure Tour members Darren Clarke, winner of The 2011 Open, and four-time European Tour winner Jesper Parnevik, who each carded two under par rounds of 68.
“I’m fortunate enough to have had a couple of majors here at Oak Hill," said Clarke. "It's a fantastic, wonderful golf course. But it's tough. It's not hidden. Everything's in front of you. You can see. But you know you're under pressure on the tee. You miss the fairway, you know it's going to be a struggle, and it's just an all-around fantastic test.
“I hit it close enough because I was hitting a lot of fairways. You know, you cannot play Oak Hill from the rough. It'll get you sooner or later. I was hitting it pretty long and pretty straight. So I was having short irons in there and for the most part leaving myself up for the putts and made the most of them.”
The 1999 Open Champion Paul Lawrie, who like Clarke and Goosen is playing in his first Senior PGA Championship, finished the day one under par and shares eighth place with seven other golfers.
Paul Broadhurst, who triumphed in this event 12 months ago, opened his Championship defence with a level par first round and is one of 12 golfers who carded first rounds of 70.