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Hiroyuki Fujita, Richard Green share lead

Hiroyuki Fujita, Richard Green share lead

NEWPORT, R.I. — Newport Country Club had already thrown its first curveball.

Golfers ditched their practice round notes after Wednesday’s storm changed the course for the opening day of the U.S. Senior Open. In the practice rounds, short-sided shots were a death sentence. That was the opposite for the tournament’s first round.

“Yesterday, if you short-sided yourself, you really had no chance,” Padraig Harrington (4-under 66) said of the change. “Today, sometimes you were short-sided and trying to get the ball to the hole. Not always, but sometimes.”

Hiroyuki Fujita of Japan and Richard Green of Australia shared the lead, finishing with 7-under 63s on the first day. Bristol’s Billy Andrade birdied four of his first seven holes and finished with a 6-under 64 for third place after the first round.

Green, 53, birdied the first three holes on the back nine before seizing par on the next five. He finished the round on 18, which finishes on an uphill slope looking at Newport’s historic clubhouse, with his seventh birdie of the day and knotted Fujita for lead.

“It was beautiful conditions,” Green said. “Couldn’t have asked for a better morning to play golf. It’s probably what’s going to be one of my favorite golf courses I’ll ever play. It just suits my eye.”

Fujita raced to 5-under on the front with five birdies. The 55-year-old birdied back-to-back par 3s on four and five and then birdied the par 4 on six.

Greens are in great shape

The course was soggy in several walking areas but the greens were pristine despite the rain. Wednesday’s wind was constant, and much like any summer day in Newport, that changed for the opening day of the tournament. The conditions were great and the wind was held at bay, except toward the ocean on the back nine.

“It wasn’t really that windy until sort of the last five, six holes,” said Lee Westwood, who finished tied for fifth with a 4-under 66. “It laid down and was there for the taking early on. You could see the scores kind of were pretty low at the start. Greens are receptive because I think we got a bit of rain overnight.”

“When we teed off, it was drizzling rain a little bit and a little wet, but it was pretty nice. Actually, the course softened up, which is helpful. But it turned beautiful. Wind, didn’t have any breeze blowing much — very light breeze,” Chris Hockaday said. “Then the last about four holes, the wind started picking up a little bit.”

Andrade birdied…


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