Cognizant Classic in The Palm Beaches

PGA National (Champion Course)


Blackmar, Fleisher and Smyth Tied

October 08, 2008

Blackmar has three Top 10 and eight Top 25 finishes this year, but has never won on the Senior circuit.

TIMONIUM, Md. (AP) -- Phil Blackmar, Bruce Fleisher and Des Smyth shot 5-under 65s on Thursday to share the first-round lead in the Senior Players Championship, the fifth and final Champions Tour major of the year.

Blackmar holed out from the fairway for eagle to help offset four bogeys, Fleisher made four straight birdies early in his round, and Smyth had a bogey-free day to top the leaderboard. All three are winless this year.

Fred Funk, Scott Hoch, Bernhard Langer and Eduardo Romero opened with 66s and 19 players were within three strokes of the lead after an ideal day for scoring at the East Course at Baltimore Country Club.

Blackmar, a Champions Tour rookie who took seven years off from competitive golf, provided the highlight of the day with his approach shot on the 389-yard, par-4 10th hole. Blackmar's shot with a pitching wedge from 106 yards landed about 10 feet short of the cup and skipped in for an eagle.

Combined with birdies on the ninth and 11th holes, he played that three-hole stretch in the middle of his round in 4 under.

Smyth, whose son won nearly $14 million in the Irish National Lottery two months ago, hasn't had a victory since 2005 and hasn't even managed a top-20 finish this season. But he had three tap-in birdies on the front nine and birdied Nos. 11 and 14 to match Blackmar. Smyth narrowly missed birdie putts on his final three holes.

Fleisher, an 18-time winner and former player of the year on the Champions Tour, hasn't won since 2004. He ran off birdies on the second, third, fourth and fifth holes, shot a 5-under 30 on the front nine and, after a bogey at 10, sank a 15-foot birdie putt on the 15th to move back into a tie for the lead. His 10-footer on the final hole for the outright lead slid just left.

Jay Haas, the tour's leading money winner, was at 4 under after six holes, but settled for a 67. Defending champion Loren Roberts shot 68.