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Durant off to Solid Start in Senior PGA Championship


Joe Durant posted a seven-birdie, one-bogey 65 to take the 18-hole lead in the Senior PGA Championship.

The $2 million event, the second straight Champions Tour major following the Regions Tradition last week, teed off Thursday at the Golf Club at Benton Harbor in Benton Harbor, Mich.

Durant, who turned 50 in April and is a rookie on the Champions Tour, won four times on the PGA Tour. The Floridian enjoys a one-shot edge over Dan Forsman and is two ahead of Brad Faxon.

Durant told reporters later that he took advantage of the afternoon conditions on the Benton Harbor layout. "All in all the conditions were really good for the afternoon wave for scoring," he said. "It warmed up pretty nice by the time I teed off. Didn't have a ton of wind, a little bit here and there,but it was pretty mild. It was beautiful this afternoon. So we definitely in a nice end of the draw today for sure."

Mark Brooks and P.H. Horgan III both shot 68s on the par-71 Jack Nicklaus-designed course for a share of fourth.

Another stroke back following 69s are England's Nick Job, Sweden's Anders Forsbrand, Scotland's Colin Montgomerie and Americans Lee Rinker, Joey Sindelar, Jay Haas, Steve Lowery, Bill Glasson, Greg Bucker, Todd McCorkle, Jeff Maggert and Frank Esposito.

Rinker, McCorkle and Esposito are all club pros competing in the championship.

Kenny Perry, the Regions Tradition champion, opened with a 70 and is among 13 players sharing 18th. Also posting a 1-under score was Bernhard Langer, a two-time winner this year and the leader in the Champions Tour's season-long Charles Schwab Cup points race.

"It was a steady day," said Perry, a 53-year-old from Kentucky and winner of the 2013 Charles Schwab Cup. "I didn't really do anything great, but I didn't do anything very poor. I just need to be a little crisper on the greens. I need to read them better. I didn't read them as well as I've been reading the greens. My speed was not as good.

"The last two weeks the greens have been pretty fast, this week the greens are not nearly as fast and the roll out, so you got to hit them a little bit. So just some adjustments, I got to make some adjustments to get ready tonight, get out there tomorrow, and have a good day tomorrow."

Also shooting 70s were major champions Tom Watson and Tom Lehman. The 64-year-old Watson, who won the championship in both 2001 and 2011, was pleased with his outing. "It was a good putting round," said the World Golf Hall of Fame member.

"I scrambled and made a lot of par putts today and wound up shooting 1 under par, which is a pretty good round of golf for me today on this golf course. I hit some shots in the wrong places, but I, fortunately, got away with made about an 80-foot putt on No. 6 today. I made several 6 or 8 or 10 foot putts to save pars. So it was one of those scrambling rounds that reminds me of the Watson of old."

Defending Senior PGA champion Kohki Idoki got off to a tough start, posting a double-bogey, four bogeys and a birdie for a 5-over 76.

England's Roger Chapman, who seemingly came out of nowhere to win the 2012 Senior PGA and soon followed that up with a victory in the 2012 U.S. Senior Open, began with a 71 this year.

For complete scoring, visit http://www.pga.com/seniorpga/scoring/leaderboard.