Green, Fujita start U.S. Senior Open with 63s. Local favorite Andrade shot back at Newport CC

NEWPORT, R.I. (AP) — Richard Green and Hiroyuki Fujita each shot 7-under 63 in the U.S. Senior Open on Thursday, taking advantage of low wind in the morning to attack the seaside Newport Country Club course and pull a stroke ahead of local favorite Billy Andrade.

Andrade, a native Rhode Islander, shot 64 in tougher afternoon conditions, with the wind at 15-25 mph when he teed off just before 2 p.m. at the mouth of Narragansett Bay. With an 8:24 a.m. tee time Friday, he could take advantage of gentler wind and softer greens that benefitted the early groups in the first round.

“It’s late in the day and the wind was really whipping pretty good,” Andrade said. “Maybe tomorrow we’ll get lucky and it won’t blow as much. But I like it blowing. It fits my game very well when conditions are like this.”

Steven Ames was fourth at 65. Ten players shot 66. Among them: former Senior Open champions Steve Stricker, Jeff Maggert and Padraig Harrington, and Englishman Lee Westwood, who was making his over-50 tour debut a week after finishing third in the LIV Golf event outside of Nashville, Tennessee.

“We had a little bit easier – no wind at least for the first, whatever, 10 holes,” said Alex Cejka, who teed off at 8:34 a.m. and was among those at 66. “It was a bonus the front nine at least. Now it’s blowing the usual 15, 20. It’s tricky out there, but it’s doable if you hit good shots.”

Fujita won 18 times on the Japanese tour but had never shot in the 60s in four previous PGA Tour Champions starts. He had five birdies on the front nine and two more on the back in a bogey-free round.

Green made the turn with three straight birdies and nearly holed his approach on No. 18 for eagle. Instead, the Australian left-hander tapped in for birdie to match Fujita at 7 under.

Andrade was 4 under after 15 holes before birdies on Nos. 16 and 17.

“When you go into these things, you don’t want to embarrass yourself. You don’t want to make a lot of bogeys and fight your game and all that stuff,” said Andrade, who was a gallery favorite throughout the round.

“Just a great, unbelievable, awesome day on a course that I absolutely love. I just love it here. I just love everything about it. I loved it when I was a little boy, and I love it now.”

Defending champion Bernhard Langer shot 70.

Mark Strickland of San Diego was the low amateur at 71, good for a tie for 64th.

The tournament is a makeup for the 2020 U.S. Senior Open, which had been scheduled for Newport, but was canceled by the COVID-19 pandemic. The club is one of the five founding members of the USGA, and it was the host of the very first national championship, the 1895 U.S. Amateur.

The USGA hosted its 1,000th championship this month when the U.S. Open was at Pinehurst No. 2. Grandstands were decorated with the No. 1,001 to mark the milestone.


AP golf:

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