TUCSON, Ariz. (Swing Update) – Kenny Perry shot the under-65s on Friday to take the lead in the Cologuard Classic, with Mark O & Meara equaling the PGA Tour Championship record with eight wins in 66, and former baseball star John Smoltz failed to build on a good start in his touring debut.
Smoltz birdied three of the first eight holes of the Omni Tucson National's Catalina course, then played in the 10-3 final for a 73th draw. After finishing eighth, the Hall of Fame launcher 51-year-old, dropped shots on the par-4 ninth and tenth. Playing on a sponsor waiver, he had a double bogey on 15th of the normal 5, a birdie of the 17th of the normal of 5 and the 18th of the normal 4.
"I put myself in a position to become defensive, and once you become, it's not a fun game to play," said Smoltz. "I have learned yet. I feel more and more comfortable and I have more confidence in my swing. "
Perry managed a 20-foot eagle putt from the fringe of the 17th hole – his eighth hole – in a round without a bogey. The 58-year-old Kentucky player has won 10 victories on the 50 and over circuit after winning 14 wins on the PGA Tour.
"I stayed steady," said Perry. "I have rolled well, made good quality putts and I think I have missed one, maybe two greens today." So, I had a lot of opportunities and I hit a lot of fairways. I got a good score. "
O'Meara, 62, started the game with a normal first place finish, then won the last set eight times for a record of nine against 28. He followed the sequence with eight straight shots and bugged the last after diving into the water.
"Whenever you shoot 7 under, I guess you can not be too disappointed, but for sure, when you're 8 after 9 holes, you'd like to do a little better," O'Meara said.
O'Meara matched Chi Chi Rodriguez's record of consecutive victories in the 1987 Silver Pages Classic and was matched by Jim Colbert in 2000, Dana Quigley in 2005 and Joe Ozaki in 2006.
"I hit good records, good iron shots, made the putts you hoped to do," O'Meara said. "And then I hit a 3-iron at about 2 inches on hole # 7, 8 at birdie, and then 9 I hit a big curling putt."
Defending champions Steve Stricker, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Jeff Maggert and Willie Wood tied O'Meara at 66, and Scott McCarron opened with 67.
"I often hurt the fairway and it gave me a lot of opportunities, and that's what you have to do here," Stricker said. "You have really scorable holes."
Jimenez won the Chubb Classic two weeks ago in Florida for his seventh PGA Tour Championship title.
Woody Austin had a 70 for his 37th inning at par or better, a record-breaking tour record shared by Jay Haas and Colin Montgomerie. Fred Couples shot 73 times, playing alongside Stricker and David Toms (71).