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Stephen Ames leads PGA Tour Champions Dick’s Sporting Goods Open

Stephen Ames leads PGA Tour Champions Dick’s Sporting Goods Open

En-Joie Golf Course was for the taking in Friday’s Round 1 of the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open.

No one took greater advantage in sweltering heat than Stephen Ames, twice a winner this season on the PGA Tour Champions who sits atop the Charles Schwab Cup earnings list ($1,270,963). He played bogey-free golf in a round of 8-under-par 64.

Ames made birdie on four of the final six holes to pass Steve Allan, who similarly made eight birdies in his round of 65.

Rocco Mediate sits solo third after a perfectly satisfying 66. Ernie Els and Bernhard Langer share fourth with Paul Stankowski (67). Els arrived in Endicott having won each of the last two Tour events, and Langer, soon to turn 67, continues his remarkable resurgence from February surgery to repair a torn Achilles.

Langer, 2014 champion at En-Joie, made five consecutive birdies beginning at the par-5 eighth.

Two-time defending Dick’s Open champion Padraig Harrington is smack in contention again, sharing seventh on a seven-birdie, three-bogey round of 68.

Second-round play is to begin at 7:50 a.m. Saturday, with the leaders off the tee at 12:25 p.m.

“I just played golf. I hit some nice — hit some quality golf shots,” said Ames, 60, an eight-time senior tour winner. “Tough to hit a lot of fairways on this golf course — they’re extremely narrow — but I think the opportunities, when I did hit the fairway, I made some birdies on it. Other than that, putted nicely and didn’t make any mistakes.”

He concluded his lowest round of the season by holing a birdie putt of 10 or so feet at the last. As for the root of his birdies on the three front-side par-5s?

“Length, I guess. Had the advantage of that,” he said. “Also the fact that I did hit the fairway, so that kind of helped. Actually, I missed the fairway on the third, I got it up and down from about 80 yards. So, I mean overall, just like I said, just playing golf. Capitalized on situations when they arose and putted nicely.”

Allen, 50-year-old Australian with one top-10 through 11 events of his rookie season, played in the first group of the day. He was 4-under through nine and proceeded to make birdie at the 12th, 16th and 18th in a spotless back nine.

“For the most part I played pretty well. I got lucky a couple times with…


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