Langer, Pavin take early first-round lead at Caves Valley at 7-under par 65

Contemporaries on the PGA Tour and often rivals in the Ryder Cup, the careers of Bernhard Langer and Corey Pavin went in opposite directions when they hit the PGA Tour Champions at age 50.

Langer, a two-time former Masters champion who at 59 is two years older than Pavin, became the most dominant senior player of his generation and one of the most accomplished in history.

Pavin, whose claim to fame came when he won the 1995 U.S. Open, seemed to disappear from the landscape with only one minor PGA Tour Champions victory and, last year, a major injury.

On Thursday at the Caves Valley Golf Club in Owings Mills, Langer and Pavin converged at the top of the first-round leaderboard in the Constellation Senior Players Championship. With 7-under par 65s, Langer and Pavin currently lead Brandt Jobe and Scott Dunlap by one stroke among those who’ve completed their rounds.

Former Masters champion Larry Mize and lefthander Steve Flesch were also at 7-under par through 15 holes .

“I played very nicely, played smart, played good, putted good,” said Langer, who is trying to win his third major this season and 10th overall on the PGA Tour Champions. “Go around here without a bogey is not a bad day, and to make seven birdies, it’s nice.”

Said Pavin, who is coming back from elbow surgery that kept him out most of last year, “I played very solidly. I only missed a couple of greens. It was a good way to start a tournament I would say.”

Jobe might have said the same thing had it not been for the last two holes.

Jobe, who earlier this year won for the first time in nearly two decades on American soil, had sole possession of the lead at 9-under par through 16 holes before hitting his tee shot on the par-3 17th into a water hazard and making double bogey, then making and bogey on the par-4 18th.

Langer birdied five holes on the front nine to take a share of the early lead. Journeyman Jim Carter matched Langer’s 31 on the front, then added another birdie on the par-5 12th to take sole possession of the lead, but fell back with a bogey on the par-4 14th.

Pavin was only 2-under at the turn, but then holed out for eagle at the par-4 11th and birdied No. 12.

Playing with Langer, reigning U.S. Senior Open champion Kenny Perry got to 3-under par through six holes, but then bogeyed the par-4 seventh after finding bunkers on consecutive shots and then bogeyed the par-4 eighth when he chunked a difficult downhill chip, leaving it in the rough behind the green. He then nestled his next shot near the cup and tapped in for bogey. He finished at 1-over 73.

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