Bean plants seeds of win with 63 at Hickory Classic

CONOVER, N.C. -- Andy Bean matched his best score in four years on the Champions Tour, shooting a 9-under 63 on Friday to take a four-stroke lead after the first round of the Greater Hickory Classic.

Bean, 53, winless on the 50-and-over tour after winning 11 times on PGA Tour, tied the tournament record set by Joe Inman in 2003.

Bean, who also shot a 63 two weeks ago in the second round of the Constellation Energy Classic in Maryland, eagled the par-5 fourth hole and had eight birdies and a bogey on the Rock Barn Golf and Spa's Jones Course.

"It'd be nice to get a win," said Bean, who tied for second in the 2004 Long Island event for his best senior finish. "I had a couple of hiccups here and there, but other than that everything else was as good as it could be today.

"I'm off to a heck of a start. ... Now I need two more good rounds to finish this thing off. I usually play better the last part of the week, so hopefully I can carry this through."

Chip Beck, making his second senior start, was four strokes back at 67 along with Dana Quigley and Mark Johnson. Beck, a four-time winner on the PGA Tour, tied for fifth two weeks ago in Maryland in his tour debut.

Tom Kite, Tom Purtzer, Leonard Thompson, Tom Wargo and Bob Eastwood shot 68s.

Thompson bogeyed three of the first six holes, then rallied with six birdies on the last 12, including a 33-foot putt on the par-3 17th.

"I was in the game the whole time, I just started making the putts," Thompson said. "It wasn't like I was hitting the ball all over the place. I had some good chances, but when they started going in, they went in in groups."

Defending champion Jay Haas had a 74. He won his first Champions Tour title last year, finishing with a tournament-record 16-under 200 total.