ABERDEEN, Scotland – Loren Roberts made his Champions Tour debut Thursday with a 1-over 72 at Royal Aberdeen to take a one-shot lead after the first round of the Senior British Open.

Roberts, who turned 50 on June 24, overcame some uncharacteristic three-putts and the strong North Sea wind that blew across the course and kept anyone from breaking par.

“I made some three-putts today, which I don’t normally do,” said Roberts, one of the best putters in golf. “But all in all, I made some good putts today.”

He made six birdies to offset five bogeys and a double bogey at the par-4 ninth for a one-shot lead over Craig Stadler, Des Smyth and four others. Former Ryder Cup captain Mark James of England was at 74.

Roberts stole the show from Greg Norman, another 50-year-old in his senior debut. Norman, coming off a tie for 60th last week in the British Open at St. Andrews, struggled in the wind and shot 76.

Smyth was even par playing the 18th until finding the right rough, having to pitch back to the fairway and hitting his third shot to within 12 feet. But his par putt raced by the hole, and he missed coming back for a double bogey and 73.

“It was a disappointing finish,” Smyth said. “Even with pulling my tee shot into the rough, I shouldn’t have walked off with a 6.”

Five-time Open champion Tom Watson had a 75, while Tom Kite had an 83.

Despite the blustery conditions, two players managed to make an ace on the 223-yard third hole. Tony Price of Wales made his hole-in-one with a driver, while Nick Job of England matched his feat with a 3-wood later in the day. Both players were given 223 bottles of Hardys wine – one for each yard of the hole.

The strangest card belonged to Joe Inman. He made par on 14 holes, but took a 10 on the par-4 seventh and twice had an 8 to shoot 85.

Crane unaffected by nearly 5-hour rain delay

MILWAUKEE – Ben Crane weathered the rain delay the best.

Crane, who was atop the leaderboard when thunderstorms interrupted the first round of the US Bank Championship on Thursday, continued his birdie bombardment on Brown Deer Park after a nearly 5-hour delay.

His 8-under 62 made him the clubhouse leader with many in the field of 156 still on the course where everyone would be drenched during a second rain delay 21/2 hours later.

Crane was 4 under when the horn sounded just as he made the turn at 10:05 a.m.

“I just went back to the hotel, laid down and relaxed,” Crane said.

“I came back and went through my regular routine. It worked out well. I was able to continue the momentum.”

Kenny Perry, the 2003 winner, shot a 63 and Chris Smith, Jeff Sluman and Jerry Kelly all had 64s on the par-70 course that is one of the shortest on the PGA Tour, measuring just 6,759 yards.

Lightning and high winds forced golfers to retreat to the clubhouse or their cars at midmorning and they didn’t resume their rounds for 4 hours, 43 minutes.

Sorenstam climbs into contention

EVIAN, France – Annika Sorenstam shot a 6-under 66 Thursday to climb into contention at the Evian Masters, two strokes behind second-round leaders Paula Creamer and Christina Kim.

Creamer and Kim each shot 4-under 68s and share the lead at 8-under 136. Sorenstam stood alone in second at 6 under, with Laura Davies and Carin Koch another stroke back.

Michelle Wie, a 15-year-old amateur from Hawaii, rebounded from her poor first round with a 70, but remained nine shots back at 1 over. The teenage phenom opened with a 3-over 75.

Davies shot 70 and Koch carded 73. Lorena Ochoa had a 69 and Carrie Webb shot 70, putting them four strokes behind.

Sorenstam had seven birdies – her longest putt was 11 feet – and dropped only one shot when she was caught between clubs and hit a pitching wedge into a greenside bunker at the 10th.

“Yesterday I walked off feeling I’d left some shots out there,” Sorenstam said. “Today I felt I converted most of them.”

Wie hit 10 of 14 fairways and got her driver under control, a big improvement after hitting just two during the first round.


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