Texan Mark Brooks rode a swirling, gusty wind to an 8-under-par 64 and joined Bobby Clampett and Tom Purtzer as first-round co-leaders in the $400,000 Gatlin Brothers Southwest golf tournament Thursday at Abilene, Tex.
“I waited until the wind started blowing to get going,” said Brooks, 27, a former University of Texas All-American from Fort Worth.
“It’s probably an advantage for me. I’ve played this course 150 times--maybe 200 times. I’ve spent quite a lot of time out here.”
Among the first players off the back nine Thursday morning, Brooks was 1 over par through 3 holes, then caught fire when the winds kicked up. He birdied 5 of the next 6 holes and eagled the seventh by holing a sand wedge from 97 yards away.
“It just took a couple of hops and went in,” he said.
A winner this year at Hartford, Conn., Brooks said he “wouldn’t mind” the wind blowing all week, suggesting that it would enhance his chances of winning.
“It’s just a little breeze,” he joked.
Keith Clearwater, Paul Azinger and Brad Bryant each shot a 66 to tie for fourth place.
Dave Hill and Lou Graham shot 68s and shared the first-round lead in the richest event on the PGA Seniors Tour, the $1-million Vantage Championship at Clemons, N.C.
“The greens are terribly fast, the fastest I’ve putted on the senior tour, maybe the fastest in the country,” Hill said after his 2-under-par round on the Tanglewood Golf Club course.
Graham, the 1975 U.S. Open champion and a rookie among golf’s 50-and-over set, echoed Hill’s sentiments about the speed of the greens. “They’re very fast, but they’re true and you can read them,” said Graham, who twice dropped 8-foot, par-saving putts.