There aren't many players who make more eagles and birdies than Billy Mayfair. And there aren't any tournaments that reward below-par shooters the way the International does.
Mayfair, who ranks second behind only Vijay Singh in birdies and eagles this season, rolled in a 70-foot putt for eagle on No. 17, then finished with a birdie to take the lead after the first round of one of the tour's most unique events yesterday in Castle Rock, Colo.
Playing at high altitude (6,300 feet) and using the modified Stableford scoring system, two factors that reward big hitters and aggressiveness, Mayfair scored 15 points to lead Brandt Jobe by two, D.A. Points and Charles Howell by three and Geoff Ogilvy and Tim Petrovic by four.
Under the Stableford scoring system, players get five points for eagles, two for birdies, nothing for pars and lose one point for bogeys.
Mayfair finished with five birdies to bring his total to 313 for the year. But it was his long roller on No. 17 -- for his 13th eagle of the year -- that went down as the shot of the day.
"I was just hoping to hit a good two-putt, make a birdie and go on," he said. "It was just one of those 40-footers."
Told a bit later that it was really more like 70 feet, Mayfair said, "Oh, okay, 70 feet."
Howell, Jobe and Points also made eagle on No. 17, an uphill, 492-yard par-5 that more often than not determines the winner of this tournament. If things keep going the way they started, the final round could be fun: No. 17 yielded 15 eagles in the opening round; last year, it produced 17 over all four rounds.
While Mayfair's presence on the leader board wasn't a surprise, Corey Pavin's certainly was. The shortest hitter on tour debunked the theory that only big hitters can succeed at 7,619-yard Castle Pines, making six birdies to finish with 10 points, tied for seventh place.
* CHAMPIONS TOUR: Tom Purtzer matched the tournament record with a 9-under-par 63 that included a hole-in-one, leading him to a one-stroke lead over Bruce Lietzke at the 3M Championships at the TPC of the Twin Cities in Blaine, Minn.
Rookie Don Reese had a 66, one stroke in front of nine players, including defending champion Tom Kite.
Purtzer, seeking his first Champions Tour victory in 17 months, had seven birdies in addition to the hole-in-one in his bogey-free round. On his next-to-last hole of the day, he aced the 205-yard No. 8 with a 4-iron. He had a 6-under 30 on his second nine.
"I like this golf course but I've managed to fritter away a win here each of the last two years," Purtzer said. "I don't try to go out and screw up the last day. I figure one of these years I may sneak through and win here."