SNOQUALMIE, Wash. -- Defending champion
Calcavecchia, a playoff winner last year at TPC Snoqualmie Ridge for his first Champions Tour title, made a 20-foot putt on No. 8 after his 4-iron approach sailed over the flag.
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"Had that not gone in, I still would have made birdie and been 4 under," he said. "It went in, which is great. Then, like I always do, I tried to stay aggressive, keep making birdies and shoot low as I could."
Calcavecchia birdied two of the first three holes on the back nine and got to 8 under. But on the par-5, 498-yard 18th, he found the sand twice and took a bogey 6.
"Taking a 6 on an easy 5 kind wrecked an otherwise great day," he said. "I had a great score but you hate doing that. All in all, I played great, hit a lot of great shots."
Calcavecchia won the Montreal Championship in June for his second victory on the 50-and-over tour.
"I didn't feel very good warming up," Couples said. "I hit the tee shot at No. 1 and then my lower back really locked up when I walked down to my second shot.
"It was like a bomb went off in my lower back. It's time to rest. I'm sad I won't be able to play in this year's event. For this to happen in Seattle, this is a rough one."
Calcavecchia's three-stroke lead is the biggest after the first round in the eight-year history of the event and the largest on the Champions Tour this year.
Also, the first-round leader in tournament history never won the title.
"My first rounds lately haven't been very good," Calcavecchia said. "So I rectified that situation at least a little bit."