O' Meara Leads Boeing Classic

SportsGolfBoeing Co.Mark O'MearaMike FetchickAllen DoyleTom Kite

It's the only accolade missing fromMark O'Meara's golf resume: a win on the Champions Tour.

He's a third of the way to filling that void.

O'Meara eagled the 18th hole on Friday to finish a round of6-under 66 and take a two-shot lead over a jumbled field after thefirst round of the Boeing Classic.

It's been 11 years since O'Meara hosted a trophy in a PGA event,when he won both the Masters and British Open in 1998 and wasranked as high as No. 2 in the world. But it's been an officialvictory drought for O'Meara since - he won the Dubai Desert Classicin 2004 and a handful of specialty events since he hoisted theclaret jug at Royal Birkdale 11 years ago.

"Absolutely, it would be nice to win. Besides winning at Dubaithe last thing I won was the par-3 competition at Augusta Nationaltwo years ago," O'Meara joked. "It would be nice to get my firstwin and hopefully soon."

O'Meara was 5 under after making birdie on No. 12, but fell backinto the pack after a bogey on 16. On the uphill, 498-yard par-5finishing hole - that ranked the easiest hole in last year'stournament - O'Meara knocked a 3-iron from about 205 yards to 17feet. He then curled in the eagle putt, one of only two golfers onFriday to eagle the closing hole.

It was O'Meara's best opening round of the year and the secondtime he's led after the first round of a Champions Tour event. Butleading after the first round at TPC Snoqualmie Ridge, thepicturesque foothills course about 30 miles east of Seattle has notbeen a good thing in the first four years of the tournament. Nofirst-round leader has gone on to win.

"Today the difference was I putted well. Last week I hit theball well ... and didn't putt very well," O'Meara said. "Thisweek, so far I've putted a lot better and hit some really goodshots."

Australian Mark McNulty had the best round of the day going,shooting a sizzling 6-under 30 on his first nine holes - the backnine at Snoqualmie Ridge. But with the big names of O'Meara, NickPrice, Gary Player and defending champion Tom Kite sent off on thefront side, very little attention was paid to McNulty. He made theturn and played his 10th hole with a gallery of just seven peoplewatching.

But McNulty couldn't keep the rhythm from his hot start going.He scrambled for pars on the first three holes of his backside,then bogeyed his 13th hole. He bogeyed his last - the par-3 ninth -when his tee shot on the 207-yard hole with water fronting thegreen found one of the greenside bunkers.

"You shoot 6 under the first nine and come back 2 over it'salways disappointing," McNulty said.

Joining McNulty at 4 under were Allen Doyle, Loren Roberts andJohn Jacobs, who has played in just one tournament in the last twomonths. Jacobs, who limits himself to 11 tournaments a year, eagledNo. 8, his 17th, to jump into contention.

The oldest winner on the Champions Tour was Mike Fetchick, whowon the Hilton Head Seniors Invitational on his 63rd birthday in1985. Jacobs wouldn't mind supplanting him.

"I've thought about that," the 64-year-old said. "It mightnot happen this week, but I tell you what, if I behave myself itwill happen."

Fifteen players were within three shots of O'Meara, includingKite, the two-time champion, John Cook and Bernhard Langer. It'sbeen a busy week for Kite, who played in last week's Tradition inSunriver, Ore., then jetted to the East Coast to promote LibertyNational, the course he helped design and is being used this weekfor The Barclays.

Then it was back to Seattle, where Kite birdied three straighton the back nine before pulling his second shot into a bunker on 18and making bogey. Thirty-two golfers broke par Friday, includingHale Irwin (70), Craig Stadler (70), Fuzzy Zoeller (71) and HalSutton (71).

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