Scottsdale, AZ – Defending champion Jay Don Blake fired a 6- under-par 64 on Thursday to grab the lead after one round of the Charles Schwab Cup Championship.
Gary Hallberg is one stroke back in second place, while Fred Couples, Jay Haas, Bill Glasson and Olin Browne shot 4-under at the Cochise Course at Desert Mountain Club to share third.
The top 30 players are in the field for this event -- the final regular-season tournament of the season, which will not only produce the Player of the Year, but also the money title winner and the $1 million annuity for capturing the Charles Schwab Cup.
Bernhard Langer, who leads both the race for the Charles Schwab Cup and the money title, overcame a slow start and birdied three out of his last four holes on Thursday to finish tied for 14th place at 1-under.
"I was very happy with my finish," said Langer in a post-round TV interview. "I played some good golf coming in."
The German Langer is 211 points ahead of Tom Lehman and 657 points in front of Roger Chapman in the race for the Charles Schwab Cup, and only those three players can capture the Cup with double points awarded this week.
Lehman, who won the race for the Charles Schwab Cup and the money title a season ago, carded a 68, while Chapman shot 69.
Both Langer and Lehman can secure the Cup with a win this week, but Chapman will require some help. In addition to a first-place finish, he needs Langer to end in a two-way tie for sixth or worse and Lehman to finish third or worse.
Regarding the money list, Langer currently leads Michael Allen by $406,808. In order to secure the money title, Allen would have to win this week and have Langer finish in 24th place or worse. Allen also shot 69 on Thursday.
"I just try to play my own game," continued Langer, who fell to David Frost in a playoff at last week's AT&T Championship. "Obviously, in the back of the head there's always the 'What does everyone else do?' but I can't control any of the other 30 players. I can only control my game."
Blake, meanwhile, carded a bogey and seven birdies -- including one on the last which vaulted him into the Day 1 lead. He is searching for his second Champions Tour win of the season after capturing the Boeing Classic in August.
NOTES: Couples has been out since the Boeing Classic due to a balky back ... Last year, Blake shot rounds of 71-68-66-71 to win by two strokes over Mark Calcavecchia, Haas, Loren Roberts and Allen. Blake finished at 8-under-par 276 for his second Champions Tour title of 2011 ... There are six first-timers in the field - Chapman, Joe Daley, Glasson, Hallberg, Kirk Triplett and Willie Wood.