Dawson tops crowded leaderboard in Minnesota

Blaine, MN ( - Marco Dawson fired a 9-under 63 on Friday to grab a 1-stroke lead after the opening round of the 3M Championship.

Dawson has one win on the Tour in 2002. In eight Champions Tour starts this season, he has three top-10 finishes, with a share of fifth at the U.S. Senior Open being his best finish.

Coming off his dominating win at the Senior Open Championship, 2012 winner Bernhard Langer fired a 64 and he shares second place with Jeff Maggert, Rocco Mediate and Vijay Singh.

Kenny Perry, the 2011 runner-up, opened with a 65 at TPC Twin Cities and is alone in sixth place.

Gary Hallberg, who shared second with Langer at this event in 2008, carded a 6-under 66 and was joined in seventh by Bobby Wadkins, Doug Garwood, Mike Goodes and U.S. Senior Open runner-up Gene Sauers.

Dawson started his round on the 10th tee. He parred his opening hole, but followed with a 10-foot birdie putt at 11. He drained back-to-back 6-foot birdie efforts on 12 and 13.

The 50-year-old chipped in for eagle on the par-5 18th and made the turn at minus-5. He got up and down for birdie on the par-5 third, then parred a pair of holes.

Dawson chipped to four feet at the sixth and rolled that putt in for birdie. He made it two in a row with another birdie on the seventh, then closed his round with an 8-foot birdie putt on No. 9.

"I drove it well and putted well, but I really hit my irons well. I was really dialed in," Dawson said. "I didn't get to play a practice round before the qualifier since I flew in from Wales on Monday. I felt every time I got over the ball I was going to hit a good shot, especially after making those three birdies early."

Langer, who won the Senior Open Championship by 13 strokes last week, posted three birdies on the front nine, then moved to 4-under with a birdie on the 10th. He holed out for eagle on the par-4 14th, then capped his round with birdies at 16 and 18.

Maggert was on fire early with four birdies in a 6-hole span from the second. Around the turn, he birdied 10 and 12 to move to minus-6. However, Maggert tripped to a bogey on the par-3 13th. He ran off three straight birdies from the 15th to jump into a share of second place.

Mediate birdied both par-5s on the front nine, the third and sixth. He also birdied the seventh. Mediate notched consecutive birdies at 11 and 12. He followed a birdie on 17 with a 30-foot eagle putt at the last to post minus-8.

"I'm working on some things now. I've hit a lot of bad shots the last few months. I'm trying to get back to where I was 15 years ago," Mediate admitted. "Some of the things I've been working on showed up today."

Singh got going with a birdie on one and an eagle at the third. He stumbled to a bogey on the fourth, but converted three straight birdie efforts from the sixth. Singh carded three more birdies on the back nine to gain a share of second place.

NOTES: This event is the fifth time this season that Dawson open qualified for an event on the Champions Tour ... In his first Champions Tour start, Paul Goydos opened with a 5-under 67, which left him tied for 12th ... Defending champion Tom Pernice, Jr. posted a 3-under 69 on Friday.