Omaha, NE – Former winner Fred Funk opened with a 3-under 67 on Thursday to grab a share of the lead after the opening round of the U.S. Senior Open Championship.
Funk was joined atop the leaderboard at Omaha Country Club by Tom Lehman, who shared second with Funk at this championship last year, as well as Mark O'Meara, Kenny Perry, Gary Hallberg, Jay Don Blake and Michael Allen.
The seven-way tie for the lead matches the Champions Tour record for largest number of players tied for the lead after the first round. The previous U.S. Senior Open record was a five-way tie for the lead
Bernhard Langer, the 2010 champion, posted a 2-under 68 on Thursday. He was joined in eighth place by Rocco Mediate, Peter Senior and Chien Soon Lu.
Corey Pavin, who shared second last year, 2008 champ Eduardo Romero, Colin Montgomerie and Senior PGA Championship winner Kohki Idoki are among nine players at minus-1.
Defending champion Roger Chapman struggled to a 4-over 74 that left him tied for 80th after the opening round.
Funk traded a birdie for a bogey from the first. After four pars in a row, he converted a birdie chance on the par-3 seventh. He parred the next three, then birdied the 11th to move within one of the lead.
The 2009 champion grabbed a share of the lead with a birdie on the par-5 14th. He parred the last four to remain there.
"Knee's fine. Only thing I'm struggling with a little bit is my back, for the first time in my career, has been really bad all year," said Funk, who had knee surgery recently. "Today, when I teed off, it felt the best it's felt all year. I just hit kind of a bad swing on No. 5, and it started bothering me again. I tweaked that SI joint. But I'm real pleased with the way I hit it."
Lehman played the front nine in even-par with a birdie on the second and a bogey at the eighth. He started to make his move towards the lead with birdies at Nos. 11 and 14. Lehman chipped in for birdie at the last to end at minus-3.
O'Meara, who played alongside Lehman, birdied the par-5 second. O'Meara ran off nine consecutive pars from the third. He converted back-to-back birdies at 12 and 13, then parred out for his share of the lead.
Perry started in the morning on the back nine and wrapped birdies at 11 and 13 around a bogey at the 12th. He moved to 2-under with a birdie on the par-4 seventh.
The Senior Players winner grabbed a piece of the lead at the second. Perry tripped to a bogey at the fifth, but bounced back with a birdie on No. 6. He finished with three pars in a row.
"I've been driving it great all year. Drove it great at Fox Chapel, drove it great last week at The Greenbrier. It's been this new driver, it automatically added length and accuracy," Perry stated. "It's really freed me up off the tee. So I'm very happy with that. That's why I'm playing more aggressive."
Hallberg, who also started on the 10th, birdied three of his first five holes to quickly gain a share of the lead. After five pars in a row, he birdied the second to take the lead at minus-4. Hallberg gave that shot right back with a bogey at the third.
After a pair of pars, Hallberg birdied the sixth, but gave that shot back as he faltered to a bogey at the eighth.
Blake birdied the second to get his round going, but he gave that shot right back at the third. An eagle at the sixth and a birdied at the ninth gave him a piece of the lead heading to the back nine. Blake bogeyed the 12th and birdied the 14th to remain there.
Allen birdied the third, but gave that shot back with a bogey at the fifth. He bounced back with an eagle at six and a birdie on the ninth. Around the turn, Allen bogeyed No. 10, but atoned for that mistake with a birdie on the 11th.
The 2009 Senior PGA Champion jumped into the lead at minus-5 with birdies at 13 and 14. However, Allen stumbled to bogeys at 15 and 17 to fall back to the pack.
NOTES: Allen is coming off a tie for fourth at the Senior Players ... Blake shared the lead after one round at the 2010 Senior British Open before finishing tied for third ... Funk set the scoring record of 20-under par when he won in 2009 ... Hallberg's 67 was his best score in six U.S. Senior Open appearances and he has a piece of the lead for the first time in his Champions Tour career ... Lehman posted his eight consecutive round of par or better at the U.S. Senior Open ... O'Meara has a piece of the first-round lead for the first time in a major on the Champions Tour ... Perry missed the cut last year at Indianwood Country Club near Detroit.