Scottsdale, AZ – Australia's Mike Harwood shot a six-under 65 on Tuesday to take the lead after the opening round of Champions Tour Qualifying School at TPC Scottsdale.
Harwood leads a 78-player field that is looking for one of five spots to earn full status next year on the Champions Tour. So far, so good, as he leads by one over defending champion Keith Clearwater, Jeff Freeman and Bob Niger.
Aside from the five full exempt status, the next 25 players will receive some type of status or the opportunity to qualify for certain events.
After the trio knotted in second are 10 players tied for fifth. With three rounds to play, there are many players still in the mix for one of the top 30 spots.
Clearwater won this event last year, but didn't have much success on tour in 2011, with his best finish being a share of 31st at the Greater Hickory Classic at Rock Barn. It was his only check over $10,000 all season.
He would have led after the first round, but stumbled to a double-bogey on the last to fall one shot back. Other than that hole, he had eight birdies and a bogey.
Harwood, meanwhile, had eight birdies and two bogeys on Tuesday and finished strong, unlike Clearwater.
He began with a bogey at the third, but posted five birdies in his next six holes to make the turn at four-under.
Harwood started his back nine similarly to the front, bogeying No. 13 to fall to minus-three. He roared back once again, finishing the round with three birdies in four holes -- including one at the last to provide the one-shot lead.
NOTES: Putting guru Stan Utley shot a one-under 70 and shares 31st...This is the third time Arizona is hosting this event. Florida has hosted 19 times and California five.