Naples, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - Kenny Perry and Sean O'Hair combined to card an 8-under 64 on Friday to claim a share of the lead at the end of the first round of the Franklin Templeton Shootout.
The defending champions were joined by the teams of Harris English and Matt Kuchar, and Charles Howell III and Justin Leonard atop the leaderboard at Tiburon Golf Club.
Perry and O'Hair are trying to become the first back-to-back winners since Hank Kuehne and Jeff Sluman turned the trick in 2003 and 2004. Perry is trying to win this event for the fourth time overall, but for the first time with the same partner.
"I actually thought this round was almost identical to our start (last year)," said Perry. "I don't know what we shot our first round last year, but it was like deja vu to me. It felt very similar, the opening round."
Retief Goosen and Freddie Jacobson sit in fourth place at 5-under 67, while Chris DiMarco and Billy Horschel, and Jason Dufner and Dustin Johnson share fifth at 4-under 68.
The duo of Rory Sabbatini and Scott Verplank occupy seventh at 3-under 69.
The top of the leaderboard was crowded throughout the day, but the big moves were not made until the field made the turn.
The first of those moves came when Goosen stuck his approach at the 10th to within five feet and Jacobson rolled in the short birdie effort to move to 5- under and claim sole possession of first from Howell and Leonard.
But Howell answered with a short birdie putt at the 13th to meet Goosen and Jacobson at minus-5 before Leonard blasted out of a greenside bunker to about two feet at the 14th and Howell kicked in the birdie to move ahead.
Goosen rolled in a lengthy birdie putt at the 14th to again join Howell and Leonard in the lead at minus-6.
O'Hair and Perry, meanwhile, were making their push up the leaderboard with birdies at Nos. 1, 4, 8, 11 and 13 before a birdie at the 14th made it a three-way tie at 6-under.
Leonard then cleaned up a short birdie at the 17th after Howell lipped out an eagle putt from off the green to claim the outright lead at 7-under.
Perry answered with a long birdie effort at the 15th to meet Howell and Leonard in 7-under. Perry stuck his tee shot at the 16th to around six feet and O'Hair converted the duo's fourth straight birdie to again claim the outright lead at minus-8.
Perry and O'Hair would par their final two holes to remain there.
"I think our personalities are very similar and we get along well. As far as game wise is concerned, he just frees me up off the tee," O'Hair said about being paired with Perry. "It's kind of fun, it's easy for me. It would be a lot more stressful if we were hitting it all over the place and then I had to get one down there and we're grinding."
Kuchar and English moved into a contention with a torrid back nine that included birdies at the 10th, 12th, 13th and 14th before they were able to grab a piece of the lead with an eagle at the 17th.
Howell closed with a long birdie putt at the 18th to make it a three-way tie at 8-under heading into the second round.
"Charles made a bunch of putts today. I had a couple tap ins, but for the most part he made most everything. Being able to play from where he was driving it today was really fun for me," said Leonard. "So to be able to hit so many wedges on this golf course was fun and we were able to take advantage of it."
NOTES: Saturday's round will switch to a better ball format, and the tournament will conclude on Sunday with a scramble ... Mark Calcavecchia is playing this event with his 13th different partner. He and Chad Campbell combined to shoot an even-par 72 on Friday and are tied for 10th place ... Ten of the 12 teams in this year's Shootout are together for the first time ... Jonas Blixt, Graham DeLaet, English, Goosen, Horschel, and Lee Westwood are all participating in this event for the first time.