PEABODY, Mass. (AP) — The witch on her broomstick that graces the Salem Country Club logo could hardly concoct a spell so scary as the blood-red scoreboard from the first round of the U.S. Senior Open.
On a day that saw 40 players break par, Kirk Triplett matched the PGA Champions Tour major record with an 8-under 62 on Thursday to take a one-stroke leader over Olin Browne. The last time the Senior Open was played at the Donald Ross course, in 2011, winner Bruce Fleischer finished at even par.
But Triplett said goodbye to the black numbers on his first hole, rose to the top of the leaderboard after making the turn and then climbed to 8 under when he holed out a 9-iron from 120 yards on the 341-yard, par-4 fourth hole (his 13th of the day).
“I think it was getting a little spooky there, that part,” Triplett said as he sat just miles from the site of the Colonial witch trials that made Salem famous. “Today I just got some momentum. At one point during the round, I said, ‘OK, this is your day. Grab it. Go.'”
Two weeks after Brooks Koepka won the U.S. Open at Erin Hills at a record-tying 16 under, the senior set took aim at another docile USGA setup on a windless course softened by rains.
Loren Roberts is the only other player to shoot a 62 in the tournament, setting the record in 2006 at Prairie Dunes in Kansas. Triplett is the 10th player to shoot 62 in a senior major — including Browne, who did it at the Senior Players Championship in 2012 and missed it by one stroke Thursday.
“Even though there’s some red numbers on the board, if you got overly aggressive and you missed on the wrong side, you were cooked,” said Browne, the 2011 Senior Open champion. “The greens were receptive and the wind was down today, so the ball was going where we started it. But if you didn’t hit good shots, you’re going to pay a real penalty out here.”
Doug Garwood was third at 6 under on the 6,815-yardcourse. Paul Goydos, who made the turn at 5 under to take an early lead but bogeyed his final hole, was at 65 along with Tom Lehman, Kenny Perry, Jerry Smith, Barry Lane and Duffy Waldorf.
The 55-year-old Triplett has five victories on the 50-and-over tour after winning three times on the…