Darren Clarke carded an opening two-over 72 at the Kaulig Companies Championship as Steve Stricker and Harrison Frazar share the lead on five-under.
Stricker was almost flawless with a late bogey on the par-4 8th (his 17th) dropping out of the solo lead after carding three birdies and an eagle on the par-5 2nd.
Major champions Stewart Cink (-4), YE Yang (-3), Ernie Els and Justin Leonard (both -2) are in close pursuit of Stricker at Firestone.
This is the tenth time Stricker has held the lead after the first round on the PGA TOUR Champions, converting four of the previous nine into victories.
The putter was on fire for the 2021 USA Ryder Cup captain who recorded the fewest putts in a round on the Champions Tour (22) and he is already looking for his fifth win in just thirteen starts.
“Yeah, it was. It was a combination of everything, right, and this is what this course makes you do. You have to scramble going around here, take advantage of the good shots that you have. Tough to get in the fairway at times, and when you don’t, you’re scrambling to just to make a par, try to get it on the green. The rough isn’t horrible so you can play out of it, but it doesn’t lend itself to being able to attack a pin from the rough.
“So you get a lot of everything around here. If you get in the fairway, you can attack, but if not, you spend your time trying to just salvage par.”