Ernie Els of South Africa drained a 50-foot eagle putt on the 18th hole Friday and sits in a three-way tie for first after the first round of the Champions Tour’s Boeing Classic in Snoqualmie, Wash.
Els, a two-time winner on the Champions Tour, finished the day with six birdies, including two to start his round, and had one bogey on the front nine and another on the back en route to his 6-under-par 66.
Els called his closing putt “a huge bonus” to finish an overall “nice round.”
“I felt like I was in control of my golf swing, which is nice. For me, I’ve got to really get the tee shots in play, which I did most of the day,” Els said.
Also at 66 are Americans Woody Austin and Billy Mayfair.
Austin, a four-time Champions winner, matching his total on the PGA Tour, took an up-and-down route to his 66, posting birdies on three of his four last holes. It capped a round of nine birdies and three bogeys.
Austin finished second at this event in 2016.
Like Els, Mayfair started out strongly, in his case with birdies on three of the first four holes, and after a bogey on No. 6, he strung together birdies on Nos. 8-10.
After he finished the front nine at 4-under, Mayfair, who has yet to win on the Champions Tour after five victories on the PGA Tour, settled for 2-under on the back, including a finish of birdie-bogey-par-birdie.
Adding to the logjam, another 12 golfers were within two shots of the leaders.
Americans Scott Parel, Jerry Kelly (the Charles Schwab Cup leader) and Davis Love III and New Zealand’s Steven Alker checked in at 5-under 67. Parel and Kelly won the tournament in 2017 and 2018, respectively.
The pack at 4-under included Australia’s Rod Pampling, Sweden’s Jesper Parnevik, Scotland’s Colin Montgomerie and Americans Glen Day, Wes Short Jr., Steve Flesch, Jim Furyk (last month’s Senior Open winner) and Tom Gillis.
Brandt Jobe, who won the most recent Boeing Classic in 2019 after last year’s tourney was canceled due to the pandemic, was among eight players who shot a 2-under 70.
The winner of the tournament, which is being held at The Club at Snoqualmie Ridge, gets $315,000.