Royal Carribean Classic
Royal Carribean Classic
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Eastwood takes opening 3 shot lead

Bob Eastwood credits his new putter and a renewed commitment to fitness for helping him to the first-round lead today in the Royal Caribbean Classic.

The 54-year-old from player Stephenville, Texas, collected 14 points in the Senior PGA Tour event and holds a three-point advantage over Andy North and Rex Caldwell.

"I'm swinging it a lot better,'' Eastwood said. "I feel stronger. My alignment is better. I feel like I'm rolling the ball better this year.''

Eastwood is off to a fast start at the Royal Caribbean for the second straight year. Unlike a year ago, he likes his chances of finishing strong this weekend.

The three-day tournament at Crandon Park Golf Course is using a Modified Stableford scoring system. The goal is to collect the most points. The format gives two points for birdies, no points for a par, and minus one point for a bogey.

An eagle is five points and a double eagle is eight points. A double bogey, or worse, is minus three points.

A year ago, Eastwood had a plus-13 for a third-place finish after the first round. But he wound up with just two points after the third and final round.

"It was fluky,'' Eastwood said of his first-day score then. "It was one of those days. It just happened and I knew it wasn't going to last.

"It's a lot different this year. My game is in a lot better shape than it was last year. I'm more prepared.''

Eastwood is working out more on the road and at home. He prepared for the Royal Caribbean by spending a week practicing in Jacksonville.

Eastwood, who has been on the Senior PGA Tour since 1996, had eight birdies. He last won a tournament in 1997. He had two top-10 finishes last year.

"The new putter really looks good when I set it down,'' he said. "Wednesday afternoon they fixed up the angles on the putter just right. I hope it keeps going. I'm ready to win again.''

Eastwood had four straight birdies on the back nine, while North finished his round with two birdies to gain a share of second place.

"This is an unusual format,'' said North, who has spent the last few years as an ESPN analyst. "None of us is used to it. It's a hole-by-hole tournament.''

Caldwell said he fed off North's success.

"It was fun to keep up with Andy,'' Caldwell said. "With this format, you can go from five or six back to the lead in no time.''

John Bland and Walter Hall were tied with 10 points each.

Tom Kite, who has eight points, had the only eagle of the round. It came on the 10th hole, a 533-yard par-5, and took him to seven points. Frank Conner, with five points, had a first-round high of five straight birdies on the back nine.

Bob Gilder made his first senior start with seven points. The six-time PGA Tour winner won the Senior PGA Tour Qualifying School tournament.



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