KETTERING, Ohio (AP) – It took a round that made the U.S. Senior Open record books for Craig Stadler to hold off a leaderboard that included Greg Norman and Tom Watson.

Stadler’s 7-under 64 on Thursday tied the first-round record and left him one shot in front of Tom Purtzer with seven others within another three shots.

“Starting out like today is wonderful,” Stadler said. “I expected to have somewhat of a decent week this week. I don’t think anybody expects to shoot 63 or 64 every day. It’s certainly nice when it happens.”

Stadler birdied his first two holes at NCR Country Club and never let up, finishing with six birdies, an eagle and one bogey.

“I just put it in the fairway all day and hit some good iron shots,” Stadler said. “The greens are as soft as you see. You just fire at the hole and it stays right there.”

Purtzer, playing two groups behind Stadler, opened eagle-birdie in a 65.

“When you get off to a start like that, it kind of helps get your momentum going, to get some positive thoughts flowing,” Purtzer said. “That definitely helped.”

Loren Roberts, playing in only his second seniors event, was alone in third at 66.

Bruce Fleischer was at 67, followed by the five at 68 including Norman and Watson.

Thirty players broke par in the opening round, matching the tournament record set in 2000 at Saucon Valley.

Stadler’s 64 tied the mark set by Fleischer in 2000 and matched in 2002 at Caves Valley by R.W. Eaks.

Norman, also making his second seniors start, didn’t have a bogey in his 68.

“I didn’t make any mistakes today, kept the ball in play, hit a lot of greens and probably the only flaw on my whole day was I didn’t make the putts that I thought I would,” said Norman, who needed 33 putts.

Watson, who won the Senior British Open, another major, in a playoff last week, averaged 290 yards on his two measured drives. He was pleased with his consistency.

“Sixty-eight is a pretty good start,” Watson said. “I’m getting more familiar with the golf course day to day.”

Norman and Watson were joined at 68 by Dick Mast, Wayne Levi and Bruce Summerhays.

Coming off a fourth-place finish last week at the Senior British Open, Stadler hit 16 of 18 greens in regulation and needed 30 putts. He played the three par-5s in 4 under, eagling the 549-yard 6th. After his drive, he hit a 3-wood pin high and 18 feet away, then rolled in the putt.

On the next hole, a 425-yard par-4, he hit an 8-iron to 6 feet for the birdie that gave him the lead.

“You hit anything marginally good with the irons, you’re going to have a fairly makable birdie putt,” Stadler said.

Purtzer, like Stadler, also started on the 10th hole but began with an eagle, hitting a 3-wood to 20 feet and making the putt. His pitching wedge second shot ended up 6 feet away on the next hole and he made that to get to 3 under through two holes.

Purtzer posted his second eagle of the day on No. 6, making a 12-foot putt.

He laughed as he gave some of the credit for the two eagles to his 19-year-old son Eric, who is caddying for him this week.

“I leave most of that up to my caddie,” he said. “That’s a lot of fun, being out there with him.”

Purtzer then three-putted the next hole to fall a shot off Stadler’s pace.

Stadler has seven top-10 finishes this year on the Champions Tour. Still splitting time on the PGA Tour – which also includes his son Kevin – he opened his year by tying for ninth at the Sony Open.

During a pro career which began in 1975, Stadler has won 13 times on the regular tour including the 1982 Masters, in addition to eight Champions Tour wins since joining the tour in two years ago.

Raymond Floyd, who won the PGA Championship at NCR Country Club in 1969, was at 69.

Curtis Strange, the 1988-89 U.S. Open winner, shot a 71 – including a hole-in-one on the par-3, 13th.

Hale Irwin, who won Senior Opens in 1998 and 2000, shot a 71.

Defending champion Peter Jacobsen shot a 1-over 72, playing the final three holes 3 over.

AP-ES-07-28-05 2026EDT

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