Hensby, Haas share US Senior Open lead

Staff WritersAP
Australian Mark Hensby is the joint leader of the US Senior Open in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
Camera IconAustralian Mark Hensby is the joint leader of the US Senior Open in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Credit: AP

Mark Hensby has upstaged some of golf's biggest names to share the lead at the US Senior Open.

The Australian posted a four-under 67 in Thursday's opening round to join Jay Haas on top of the leaderboard at the Saucon Valley Country Club.

Hensby mixed six birdies with two bogeys, with four of his birdies coming on the front nine.

But the 50-year-old from Melbourne had to share the spotlight with the 68-year-old Haas, who has been shooting his age or better for the last three years.

Haas became the fifth player in US Senior Open history to shoot his age, joining Tom Watson, Hale Irwin, Harold McSpaden and Jerry Barber, who did it nine times.

"That's a pretty good score to break (your age) on a course like this," said Haas, who had shot his age six previous times on the PGA Tour Champions, but never in a major.

Haas and Hensby were a shot ahead of Steve Stricker, Rocco Mediate, Paul Broadhurst and Tim Petrovic.

Even with the rain that pounded Saucon Valley in the morning and left the greens receptive even when it relented, only 11 players managed to break par.

The co-leaders benefited from the later start because of the steady rain all morning that made it difficult to keep clubs dry.

Paul Goydos had the low score from the morning wave at 69, prompting the Californian to say, "This is more rain than we've had in 10 years."

"Wow, did we ever catch a break today," Stricker said. "The morning wave, it looked like their whole wave played in the rain. ... It played as long as it could play today with the soft conditions and the green really not rolling out. It was long, but a tough challenge."

Defending champion Jim Furyk, who missed the cut by a shot last week at Brookline in the US Open, opened with a 71.

Steve Alker, the leading player on the PGA Tour Champions this year, had a 72 in his US Senior Open debut.

Hensby and Haas have some recent PGA Tour experience on their side.

Hensby, whose lone PGA Tour victory was the 2004 John Deere Classic, tied for seventh in the Puerto Rico Open. Haas played with son Bill in the Zurich Classic team event and they made the cut.

Haas doesn't see that as preparing for the toughest of the senior events. He was just having fun with his son and found a mental boost.

"Playing with Bill, it gave me some confidence, a little extra confidence," Haas said. "But at the same time, I'm on the edge of saying that's enough.

"And if I play too many bad rounds in a row, then I'm done. Maybe that drives me. I don't want to be done. So I keep working at it and keep trying to shoot good scores."

"He's still very competitive," Stricker said. "He still plays a lot. He's a straight driver of the ball, which you need to be here, and he scrambles well still.

"That's what you need at a US Open, whether it's on the regular tour or the Senior Open."

Richard Green's even-par round left the Australian tied 12th, while John Senden and Rod Pampling are two strokes behind him.

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