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Sauers Beats Wind, Nabs Sr. Open Lead

Southport, England — Gene Sauers mastered a stiff breeze to shoot a 3-under 67 Thursday for a one-stroke lead after the first round of the Senior British Open.

The 50-year-old American had all pars on the front nine for a 34 at sunny Royal Birkdale. He then birdied the 10th and bogeyed the 11th. His three successive birdies from the 15th left him at 33 for the back nine.

“I hit a lot of solid shots in the wind, so it didn’t really mess with me too much,” Sauers said. “I’m really pleased with the way I played. This is only my third British Open and it’s a great privilege and honor to be here.”

Four players were at 68, among them 2010 British Senior Champion Bernhard Langer. The German was joined by South Africa’s David Frost, Australia’s Peter Senior and Frankie Minoza of the Philippines. Only 10 of the 144 players bettered par.

Sauers is 23rd on the Champions Tour money list and has made 11 cuts from 11 starts this year with two second-place finishes and a third.

At 69 were former U.S. Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin and fellow Americans Gary Hallberg, John Cook and Jeff Hart as well as Australia’s Peter Fowler.

Defending champion Fred Couples and Mark O’Meara, who won the 1998 British Open at Birkdale, shot 74s. Colin Montgomerie, their playing partner and a senior rookie, was two strokes better.

Tom Kite, Steve Pate, Mark Wiebe, Rocco Mediate, Steve Jones and Tom Pernice Jr. were among a large group at 70 along with Scotland’s Sandy Lyle, Ireland’s Mark McNulty and New Zealand’s Greg Turner.

Langer finished birdied three of his last four holes.

Steele in Canadian Lead

Oakville, Ontario — Brendan Steele topped the Canadian Open leaderboard Thursday at 7-under 65, birdieing five of the first seven holes on his back nine at Glen Abbey.

The 30-year-old Steele had eight birdies and a bogey, dropping a shot on his final hole — the par-4 ninth. He won the 2011 Texas Open for his long PGA Tour title.

Matt Kuchar, a two-time winner this year, was a stroke back along with Scott Gardiner and Scott Brown. Kuchar eagled the par-5 18th hole, his ninth hole of the day.

Hunter Mahan and David Lingmerth shot 67, and Chez Reavie, the 2008 winner at Glen Abbey, was another stroke back in a group that included Bubba Watson and Trevor Immelman.

Brandt Snedeker opened with a 70, and Ernie Els and defending champion Scott Piercy followed at 71. Piercy won last year at Hamilton Golf & Country Club.

Luke Donald, Charl Schwartzel and Canadian Mike Weir shot 73, Dustin Johnson struggled to a 75, and Graeme McDowell had a 76.

Brad Fritsch was the top Canadian at 69. David Hearn, a playoff loser this month in the John Deere Classic, followed at 70.

Pat Fletcher, born in England, was the last Canadian winner, taking the 1954 event at Point Grey in Vancouver. Carl Keffer is the only Canadian-born champion, winning in 1909 and 1914. Albert Murray, a Canadian also born in England, won in 1908 and 1913.