Soft touch gives Green a solid 65


BETHLEHEM, Pa. - Hubert Green got the first round of the U.S. Senior Open off to a roaring start yesterday, shooting a sparkling 65 after going off the first tee at 8 a.m. That 6-under start was the best ever in the first round of a Senior Open, but as the calm morning conditions carried over into the afternoon, it became clear that Green's round wouldn't separate him from the field as much as it had seemed.

Even though Bruce Fleisher's 64 made Green's record short-lived, for Green, who has missed the cut in the previous two Senior Opens, second place was a lovely place to start.

"We are very lucky that it stayed overcast, [because] the greens didn't get as fast they could get and will get," said Green, who won earlier this year at the Audi Senior Classic in Mexico.

The key to his round was precision iron play, as Green hit 16 greens in regulation, "a new world record" for him, he said. Record or not, with that many birdie putts tried, some are bound to go in.

"My greens-in-regulation stats on the regular tour is not near as good as this was," he said. "Hitting that many birdie putts is much more fun."

Kite, Watson don't benefit

After much pomp and circumstance surrounding their first appearance at a Senior Open, neither of the Toms - Tom Kite or Tom Watson - could take advantage of the favorable scoring conditions during the opening round. Kite was at 1-under coming to the 17th tee but bogeyed the last two holes for a 1-over 72. Watson, who played early in the day with Green, rallied on the back nine for his 71.

"The course is there for the taking," Watson said. "I played with a player [Green] who played the way he should have played."

Car puts Lacy on a roll

E. Blair Lacy has one of those golf stories that sounds like something the starter at your local nine-hole track might tell you.

Lacy tried his luck on the PGA Tour after turning pro in 1972 but never amounted to much, giving up the tour when he had a family. He regained his amateur status and dedicated himself to the hair salon that he opened with his wife, Vickie. In 1996, though, the Marietta, Ga., resident, won a two-year lease on a car after acing a par-3 in a tournament, inspiring him to turn pro for a second time.

He did, and in his first round in a U.S. Senior Open yesterday, he shot a 2-under 69, which included a 40-footer on the 18th hole.

"Boy, we needed a car at that time," said Lacy, remembering his days at the salon. "[On 18] I was just hoping not to three-putt, and it just went in. I never dreamed I'd be here shooting this kind of score."

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