Published May 03, 2016
Birmingham, AL (SportsNetwork.com) - Jeff Maggert fired a 5-under 67 in Thursday's first round and that gave him a 1-shot lead at the Regions Tradition, the first major championship of the season on the senior circuit.
Maggert has one career win on the Champions Tour at last year's Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic. He also has won on the PGA Tour three times.
Kevin Sutherland carded a 4-under 68 in his first round at Shoal Creek Club and he is alone in second.
Tom Watson, the 2003 champion, finished day one tied for third at 3-under 69. He is joined there by Colin Montgomerie, who won two senior major titles last season, and Wes Short, Jr.
Defending champion Kenny Perry shot a 2-under 70, putting him in a tie for sixth with eight others.
Maggert did all of his work on the front nine before playing the back side at even-par.
The 51-year-old exploded out of the gate when he made three birdies over his first five holes at two, three and five. Now at minus-3, Maggert drained back- to-back birdies at eight and nine to close out the front nine at 5-under.
Following a pair of pars at 10 and 11, Maggert started going backwards with bogeys at 12 and 13. After a par on 14, Maggert got those shots back and then some with three straight birdies from 15.
While Maggert finished with a bogey at the last to drop him back to minus-5, that lead held up at the end of the day.
"Just good, solid ball-striking. I didn't hit anything, you know, like tap-in range. They were all 12 to 15 feet, a couple of them maybe a little longer than that," Maggert said. "But I just was rolling the ball well, seeing the lines on the greens really well. Just seemed like from 10 to 18 feet I just felt really comfortable, like I was going to make those."
Sutherland traded a bogey on two for a birdie on three before making three birdies in a 4-hole stretch from five.
Making the turn at minus-3, Sutherland moved to 5-under as well with a pair of gains at 11 and 12, but a bogey at 13 dropped him back to minus-4. That is where Sutherland finished up as he ended with five pars from 14.
Watson made three birdies on the front nine before making the turn with a bogey at nine. He surrounded a birdie at 13 with eight pars to finish up his day.
"I played well today. It was unexpected, but I turned it around on the practice tee before I went out today and hit some pretty solid iron shots, which I hadn't been doing for a while," Watson admitted. "I hit some quality shots and drove the ball well, made some nice putts."
Montgomerie tripped to a bogey on one before holing birdies at six and nine. Another bogey at 13 saw him fall back to even-par, but Montgomerie finished with birdies at 14, 15 and 18 to jump into a tie for third.
Short had an up-and-down day that included seven birdies, two bogeys and a double-bogey.
NOTES: Maggert has three top-10 finishes on tour this season, including an eighth place finish at last week's Insperity Invitational ... Watson, an eight-time major champion, also finished runner-up in 2000 along side Larry Nelson after they fell in a playoff to Tom Kite ... Montgomerie's lone two victories on U.S. soil came at the Senior PGA and U.S. Senior Open Championships last season ... Perry is looking to become the first player to repeat as champion at this event since Tom Lehman in 2011-12.