SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – When University of Illinois Coach Mike Small is not guiding his team or on the recruiting trail, he’s still a big game hunter.
The three-time PGA Professional Champion exhibited how at ease he was away from his full-time job Thursday, posting a flawless 7-under-par 65 to grab the first-round lead at Desert Mountain in the 29th Senior PGA Professional Championship presented by Mercedes-Benz.
“I stumbled on to something in the practice rounds with my swing, because I haven’t played much. Our team is in season,” said Small. “My putting was better today. I putted better than I have in a long time. I felt better over the ball, had better lines, my alignment’s better.”
It wasn’t as easy for four Oklahoma professionals competing in the event.
Tim Fleming, director of golf at Oklahoma City Golf & Country Club, led the way with a 2-over 74 and is tied for 76th. The field will be cut to the low 90 and ties after the second round and low 70 and ties after the third round.
Jim Woodward of Oak Tree National shot a 3-over 75 and is tied for 104th. Jim Kane of Edmond and Kyle Flinton, director of golf at Quail Creek Country Club in Oklahoma City, each shot 76 and are tied for 127th.