Golf | Allianz Championship

Bernhard Langer and Tom Pernice Jr. share first-round lead of 66 at Allianz Championship

 

Former Master champ Bernhard Langer and dark horse Tom Pernice Jr. share the lead at the Allianz Championship.

Special to The Miami Herald

One of the leaders after the first day of the Allianz Championship is well-known professional Bernhard Langer, winner of two Masters titles. Sharing the lead with him is lesser-known Tom Pernice Jr., whose best finish in a major is 13th at the 1989 U.S. Open.

Despite the disparity in past success, they were side-by-side after shooting 6-under-par 66s in the first round of the Allianz on Friday on The Old Course at Broken Sound in Boca Raton.

Langer, 55, recorded his 66 despite battling a cold most of this week.

“I caught something Monday,” he said. “I just don’t have much energy, and when it’s hot like [Friday], it drains you even more. You don’t sleep as good; you’re not rested. You’re just walking and dragging your feet.”

So, was Langer going to go home and collapse into bed?

Not an option. Langer, who lives just miles away from The Old Course, traditionally holds a party at his home the week of the Allianz.

Just a little get-together at the Langer home, Bernhard?

Langer smiled and said, “Well, it’s about 120 people.”

Despite feeling a bit lousy, he said of the party, “I’m up for it. It will be great.”

That 66 and his finish, three birdies in the final four holes, certainly should help him feel better.

“The round was pretty strong coming in,” said Langer, who won the 2010 Allianz. He just missed chipping in on No. 14, a par-3, and said he “almost made an eagle on 18.” If both those near-misses had occurred, Langer would have posted a 30 on the back nine. As it was, he put together nines of 34 and 32 with nary a bogey on the card.

Langer also extended his streak of shooting par or better on The Old Course to 11 rounds.

Pernice, 53, who had been splitting time between the regular PGA Tour and the Champions Tour for golfers 50 and older, said he will play a majority of his tournaments this year in Champions events.

Asked the difference between the two tours, he pointed out two things. “The courses on the Champions Tour are quite a bit shorter, and it’s important to get off to a quick start on this tour because there are only three rounds.”

Pernice shot a 31-35, highlighted by an eagle on the par-4 fifth hole when he holed a wedge from 128 yards.

Previous champions played well Friday. Corey Pavin, who won last year, was one stroke behind the two leaders with a 33-34—67. He was joined by five other players — Rocco Mediate, Bart Bryant, Scott Simpson, Fred Funk and Roger Chapman — at 67.

Mediate and Bryant, who was paired with his brother Brad, were making their debuts on the Champions circuit.

Bryant called playing with his brother special. He also said, “It’s nice to have one round under my belt.” The Bryant brothers also had their mom and dad following them. “For us to be able to play together again and for them to be here was really cool,” Bart said.

Mediate, who birded his final three holes, compared this first Champions start to his first tournament on the PGA Tour. That was at Bay Hill “a long time ago” and he recalled, “I felt like a deer in the headlights. I know on the Champions Tour you have to earn your way.”

Mediate pointed out that the slogan for the regular PGA Tour is “These Guys Are Good,” and he decided to come up with his own slogan for the Champions Tour that he has now joined.

“It should be,” Mediate said, smiling, “These Guys Are Still Good.”

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