Four Share Lead in Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic

Hal Sutton, Steve Elkington, Corey Pavin and Roger Chapman carded 3-under 69s to tie for the opening-round lead in the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic. The $1.6 million, 54-hole Champions Tour event began Friday at the Fallen Oak course in Biloxi, Miss.

Sutton, a 54-year-old with 15 titles on the PGA Tour who's still seeking his first win on the over-50 circuit, carded five birdies and two bogeys. In recent years Sutton has been beleaguered by hip problems that have hurt his game.

"I've been trying to correct some bad habits that I had from that bad hip. Today was progress," Sutton told The Associated Press. "I really felt good on the golf course today. I have not had a round since I've been out here that I felt as solid as I did today. So we'll just keep trying to do the same thing."

The 50-year-old Elkington, a 17-time winner on the regular Tour - including a major at the 1995 PGA Championship, and a senior tour rookie this season, also had five birdies and two bogeys Friday.

The 53-year-old Pavin, winner of last year's Allianz Championship, had the same numbers as Sutton and Elkington, while Chapman, an Englishman whose only two wins on the Champions Tour came last year in two majors - the Senior PGA Championship and U.S. Senior Open - posted four birdies and a bogey for a share of the lead.

Pavin acknowledged that scoring was tough on the Tom Fazio-designed layout in Biloxi. "It's a hard golf course to score on when the greens are firm like this," Pavin told the AP. "So if we don't get rain, it's probably going to give a bunch of guys a chance."

Tied for fifth after posting 70s are Joe Daley, Michael Allen, Fred Funk, Mark O'Meara, Olin Browne and David Frost. Frost won the Champions Tour's previous event, last week's Toshiba Classic in Southern California.

Twelve players shot 1-under 71s, with another 10 had even-par 72s. One of those in the latter group, defending champion Fred Couples, had a wild round. Starting on the 10th tee, the Seattle native went out in even-par 36.

On his home half, however, "Boom-Boom" recorded a double-bogey on the par-4 fifth, followed by three straight birdies and a bogey on the par-4 ninth.

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