Senior just one behind at 2011 US Senior Players Championship

PETER SENIOR fired a blemish-free five under 66 to be just one stroke behind leader Jeff Sluman after the first round of the year’s final senior golf major today.

Senior collected five birdies to be tied for second with Gary Hallberg at the 2011 Constellation Energy Senior Players Championship on the Westchester Country Club’s tree-lined West Course in Harrison, New York.

2009 winner Jay Haas, Corey Pavin and Michael Allen were two strokes back at 67, while Fred Couples, defending champion Mark O’Meara and Tommy Armour III had 68s. Tom Watson struggled, shooting a 76.

Sluman had seven birdies in an 11-hole stretch from No. 4 to 14, including three in a row on Nos. 12-14. He bogeyed the par-3 16th, and then closed with two pars.

Sluman holed a 45-foot putt on the 12th, chipped in from 25 feet with a 9-iron on 13, then made a 3-footer on 14.

“I made one of those bombs,” Sluman said. “I was just trying to two-putt and it fell into the hole. I followed it up on 13 from 25 feet. Making a 45-footer and following it up with a 25-footer is not something I’m used to.”

Couples, playing in his first event since undergoing treatment on his back six weeks ago in Germany, was 5 under through 11 holes, but dropped three strokes with bogeys on Nos. 12-14. He birdied No. 16 to get back to 3 under.

“If I hadn’t gone to Germany, I wouldn’t be playing right now,” Couples said. “I’d still be trying to see if it would thaw out and I don’t think it will. So that’s basically why I’m here after going there.”

Westchester Country Club was the site of a PGA TOUR event from 1963-2007 and most players had fond memories of the course that has changed little since.

“Absolutely, you have a comfort zone,” Sluman said. “Anytime you have played at a place and I would guess I’ve probably played 80 rounds here and I should have a pretty good idea of what you need to do under all conditions.”

The 2011 Senior Players Championship is being telecast in Australian on Fox Sports.

2011 Senior Players Championship Leaderboard

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