POLK CITY, Iowa -- When Mike Sullivan talks about taking his
golf game on the road, he means it.
Sullivan travels between tournaments on the Champions Tour in a
37-foot motorhome, complete with DVD player, surround sound and a
kitchen that allows him to pursue one of his favorite activities --
"It's just kind of a fun way to go," Sullivan said.
Sullivan also had some fun on the golf course Friday, shooting a
6-under-par 65 to share the first-round lead with Tom Jenkins in
the Allianz Championship.
A rookie on the senior circuit, Sullivan played a bogey-free
round in warm, windy conditions and needed only one long shot for
any of his six birdies -- a 25-foot chip just off the fringe on No.
8. It was a rare strong opening round for Sullivan, who usually
plays his best golf on the final day of a tournament.
"My caddy said to me as I walked off the last green today, 'You
must have woken up and thought it was Sunday,'" Sullivan said with
a smile. "I've had the low score of the day on Sunday two times
and I've had some other good scores, too. For whatever reason, I
played well today."
Jenkins, second in this event last year, continued a solid
stretch of play that has produced four top-5 finishes in his last
five tournaments. A curving 25-foot putt for an eagle on No. 4
highlighted his round, which included just one bogey.
"Lately I certainly have been on kind of a roll," said
Jenkins, who twice has finished second this year but has yet to
win. "I've had several chances to win and I'm certainly
disappointed I haven't been able to do that. But I've been playing
Ron Streck and Jim Ahern each were one stroke back at 66, which
was the best round for Streck since he joined the senior circuit
last year. Ahern was tied for the lead until he bogeyed No. 17.
Bruce Fleisher, who had a hole-in-one, was among a group of four
This is the fifth year of the Allianz tournament but the first
time it has been played at the Tournament Club of Iowa. The hilly,
wooded course -- carts are allowed because of all the elevation
changes -- contrasts sharply to the tournament's previous home at
Glen Oaks, which winds through a development of upscale homes in
West Des Moines.
The golfers' lack of familiarity with the course caused some
indecision on club selection.
"On the par 3s there's a lot of anxiety because you don't know
what to hit," Jenkins said.
Sullivan seemed to have no problem with club selection or the
wind, which gusted up to 30 mph. Starting on the back 9, he gave
himself an early lift by knocking in a 12-foot putt for birdie on
No. 11. He just missed an 8-footer for eagle on No. 1, but shook
off the disappointment and logged three more birdies.
"As 65s go, it was pretty easy," Sullivan said. "But I'm glad
we were riding. It's not severe from tee to green, but from green
to tee, if we didn't have carts they'd have to shuttle us on 12, 13
or 14 holes."
Sullivan drove his motorhome more than 900 miles to this
tournament from western Pennsylvania, where he played in the Senior
PGA Championship last Sunday.
"You're sitting up high, you've got the big picture window out
there in front of you," Sullivan said. "You can see over traffic,
you can see countryside. I'm seeing places I've looked down on from
the air in the past. It's kind of a different perspective."
Jenkins followed his eagle on 4 with a 25-foot birdie putt on
the next hole. But his most timely shot came on 17, a par 5, after
he pushed his tee shot into weeds to the right of the fairway.
He pitched out to 100 yards, then hit a sand wedge to 6 feet and
sank the birdie putt for a share of the lead.
Fleisher, playing in black tennis shoes to ease the pain in his
aching feet, aced No. 16 with a 4-iron from 178 yards. The ball hit
6 feet short, bounced once and dropped into the cup.
"It's such a great feeling," Fleisher said. "It happens so
rare, certainly in my game, and when you do do it, you're kind of
Craig Stadler, the Champions Tour player of the year in
2004, withdrew after waking up Friday morning with a sore right
elbow. A sore back forced Stadler to pull out of the Senior PGA
Championship last week. ... The tournament's start was delayed
three hours because officials feared a thunderstorm would hit just
as the first golfers were teeing off. But the storm dissipated
before reaching the course and it was dry all day. ... Joe Inman
got one back after plunking five straight balls into the water and
carding a 15 on No. 18 at the Senior PGA last Sunday. On his first
hole Friday, Inman made eagle from 95 yards out on the par-4 No.