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AT&T Champions Classic: Sindelar scintillates in first round

Joey's 8-under 64 paces pack at Valencia Country Club

Posted: March 14, 2009 1:35 a.m.
Updated: March 14, 2009 4:55 a.m.

David Edwards hits a drive up the ninth fairway Friday at the AT&T Champions Classic in Valencia.

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Just four days ago, golfer Joey Sindelar touched the Valencia Country Club Course for the first time.

He got familiar with it very quickly, tying the lowest round ever in a Champions Tour event at the course with an 8-under 64 Friday at Valencia Country Club.

The 50-year-old holds a one stroke lead over two-time event winner Tom Purtzer after one round of the AT&T Champions Classic.

Sindelar, known for his ball-striking, credited his hot start to his short game.

“I didn’t make them all, but it was enough to keep the fire burning,” Sindelar said. “Then I kind of had a lunch break for an hour and a half.”

Sindelar, who finished second in last week’s Toshiba Classic in Newport Beach, made five birdies starting his day on the back-nine.

He pared the next seven shots, failing to get on the green during four consecutive holes.

But he wrapped up the afternoon with a successful run on Nos. 8 and 9.

He hit a 3-iron to 10 feet on No. 8, then putted for birdie.

Then on No. 9, he hit a 5-iron to eight feet, sinking his ensuing putt for eagle.

Sindelar, who teed off at 10:29 a.m., said he had an advantage because the air was still damp and heavy, allowing him to get more length on his drive.

The poana greens also lacked the bumps and ridges they would see later in the day after golfers made their way through them.

Purtzer also took advantage of crisp conditions in the morning and early afternoon.

His seven birdies brought him to 7-under, his best round at Valencia.

Purtzer previously won the 2003 and 2007 Classics at Valencia and said despite elbow tendinitis, he was confident.

“I always feel good going into this golf course,” he said. “I have good feelings on this golf course.

But Purtzer said he left a couple of scoring chances out on the greens Friday.

Because of the tendinitis, Purtzer switched back to his old irons this week in preparation for the tournament.

“That helped a ton, but I stayed pretty confident,” he said. “This course helps me get the confidence back.”

Two golfers are at 5-under — Jay Haas and David Edwards.

Four stand at 4-under, including current money leader Bernhard Langer.

Another nine stand at 3-under, including Fuzzy Zoeller.

“It’s a new game,” Zoeller said of today’s second round. “You have 18 games out there.”

Denis Watson, who won the tournament last year with a 7-under, shot 3-over Friday.

Play resumes at 10:10 a.m. today.

cosborne@the-signal.com

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