Chris DiMarco birdied five of his first nine holes Friday and landed in a three-way tie at the top of the leaderboard after the first round of the Hoag Classic in Newport Beach, Calif.
The American, who is looking for his first Champions Tour win in his 91st tourney, played the back nine first and finished with a 7-under 64 to match Bernhard Langer of Germany and Miguel Angel Jimenez of Spain.
Langer is looking for tour history, having won 45 times, tied for first all-time with Hale Irwin. He posted four birdies in five holes at one point on the front nine, and a closing birdie allowed him to shoot lower than his age.
“Well, the course played pretty long, but I got off to a great start, birdied — I was 5 under after eight or something like that, so that was really a hot start. At that point in time, I actually had the thought hopefully can shoot your age or better today,” Langer said. “Played very solid, still had more looks on the back side, but nothing dropped.”
Jimenez went birdie-bogey-birdie-birdie to close out his round as he began pursuit of his 14th career Champions win.
DiMarco, who finished tied for 16th in the Cologuard Classic earlier this month, said he was riding some momentum, although he spent the following week doing other things besides golf.
“Obviously played a great round in Tucson, the second round, shot 9 under. I’m starting to see it inside me. We went home for a week, we skied a couple days, I didn’t touch a club,” DiMarco said. “Knew I was playing good, knew I was playing good, knew I was putting good. So for me, just going out and kind of firing at pins, and I hit some really good close shots and just kind of built up. It was just one of those rounds, it just added up.”
Doug Barron of the U.S. and Canada’s Mike Weir were each a shot back, both completing bogey-free rounds.
Americans Fred Couples and Steve Stricker joined five others in a tie for sixth place at 5-under 66. Couples is a two-time Hoag winner (2010, 2014) and has never finished outside the top 10 all eight times he has been in it.
Stricker has won the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai this season, finished tied for second at the Chubb Classic and tied for eighth in the Cologuard.
Retief Goosen, last year’s winner at Newport Beach Country Club, is in a tie for 28th at 2-under 69.