Kissimmee’s Damon Green, the longtime caddie for former Masters champion Zach Johnson, shares the lead with PGA Tour veteran Bobby Clampett after one round of the Champions Tour qualifying final in Coral Springs.
Green and Clampett each posted 4-under-par 68s at a windy TPC Eagle Trace to stay ahead of newcomers Esteban Toledo and Neal Lancaster. Five Champions Tour cards will be handed out at the end of the 72-hole event.
Green, 51, is making his third attempt at a full-time berth on the senior circuit. He also has qualified twice for the U.S. Senior Open, parlaying each into a top-20 finish.
After two bogeys in his first four holes, Green went 7-under through his next dozen holes before a late bogey left him tied with Clampett.
“I just told myself to be patient, it’s a long week,” Green said. “You know, all those things a caddie tells a player.”
A renowned minitour player with more than 75 wins to his credit, Green struggled in repeated tries to survive the PGA Tour’s qualifying process. He turned to caddying 14 years ago, working stints for Jimmy Green and Scott Hoch before Johnson hired him in 2004.
At both of his previous attempts, Green has said he would play Champions Tour events only in weeks when Johnson wasn’t playing.
Clampett, who has limited Champions status next year after placing 39th on the money list, is seeking to upgrade his card. He tied for sixth at last year’s final stage, losing a three-man playoff to determine entry priority.
Lance Ten Broeck, another caddie who once worked for Jesper Parnevik, was among 10 golfers two shots off the pace.
Jeff Freeman, the Country Club of Orlando pro who topped the final stage last year, is tied for 40th after opening with a 2-over-par 74. Gene Jones (Orlando) and Peter Horrobin (Miami Lakes) shot 71s to join a tie for 15th.Jeff Shain covers golf for the Orlando Sentinel and Tribune Newspapers. Follow him on Twitter at @JeffShain, or reach him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.