The top of the U.S. Senior Open leader board has not changed in a year, courtesy of David Toms, the defending champion.
Toms began his title defense with an eight-under par 62 Thursday at Warren Golf Course at Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind. Late in the day, Steve Stricker matched Toms’ 62 to share the lead.
Their scores equaled the Senior Open record, while Toms became the first defending champion to hold the first-round lead the following year.
“Today was all about getting off to a good start,” Toms said. “Obviously 62 is a bonus, but when you’re defending champion, you just want to get out there, play golf and try to be in the golf tournament after the first day and not shoot yourself out of it.”
Toms, 52, made two early bogeys, but made 10 birdies overall, including four in a row to close his round.
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Incidentally, only three players have won the Senior Open back to back in its 40-year history — Miller Barber, Gary Player and Allen Doyle.
Stricker, meanwhile, played his last 11 holes in seven-under par and included an eagle three at the par-5 17th hole. Stricker is seeking to win his second senior major this year. He won the Regions Tradition in May.
“I really didn’t know what to expect,” Stricker said at the conclusion of his first round ever in a U.S. Senior Open. “I played one practice round around here. I love the course. It’s got a great feel to it. It’s a fairly new course but has an appearance of being rather old. It’s a beautiful layout. We got some rain overnight so conditions softened up a little bit for us. I saw David Toms go out and shoot eight under, so I knew some good scores were out there.”