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Pro golf: Par-5s kind to Corey Pavin, Fred Couples in American Family Insurance Championship opening round

June 25, 2017 GMT

University Ridge Golf Course has five par-5 holes, a fact that normally wouldn’t sit well with Corey Pavin.

Pavin said courses heavy on longer holes aren’t usually his forte, but he carded birdies on three of five par-5s in Friday’s opening round of the American Family Insurance Championship.

“I birdied a couple of them and I was able to reach a couple of them because of the wind direction, so that helped,” said Pavin, who’s part of a group of seven players at 5-under 67 after the first round, tied for sixth place and four shots behind leader Paul Broadhurst.

“I prefer par-70 courses, personally, so I was a little concerned about that. But on the flip side of the coin, I like par 3s, and there’s five of them. That’s a good thing, too. Sometimes that stuff evens out.”

Pavin, a two-time winner at the PGA Tour event formerly held in Milwaukee, birdied the par-3 eighth hole in addition to the par-4 first and 13th and par-5 second, sixth and 16th.

He missed 10 months of the 2016 season because of an elbow injury that required surgery and has finished in the top 40 of only one of his six PGA Tour Champions starts this season.

“Sometimes it takes a little while to get back,” Pavin said. “Still, it’s frustrating not to play the way I want to. I felt good coming in here.”

He’s tied at 5 under with Kevin Sutherland, Stephen Ames, Brandt Jobe, Jeff Maggert, Phillip Price and Fred Couples, who knows a little bit about returning from injury.

Couples, who has dealt with a balky back for years, rolled in a 20-foot putt for eagle on No. 16 to go along with four birdies in a bogey-free round. Two of his birdies were on par-5s.

“I hit the ball solid,” said Couples, who has been off for the previous six weekends while dealing with back issues. “I don’t like coming out here just to play — I’m not there yet — so I try to be as competitive as I can.”

Fourth poses problems

No hole produced more bogeys on Friday than the par-4 fourth, where 26 of the 78 players shot over par.

Jerry Pate had it the worst with an 8 at the 444-yard hole where the fairway slopes toward Morse Pond along the right.

That was the only blemish in a round that otherwise was 6 under.

On the flip side, the par-5, 554-yard No. 16 was statistically the easiest in the first round, with no bogeys, two eagles and 36 birdies.

The first-round scoring average was 70.295 on the par-72, 6,967-yard course.

Badger state struggles

Steve Stricker and Jerry Kelly had rounds under par, but the first round wasn’t as stellar for the other Wisconsin natives.

Madison native Jim Schuman and Rhinelander-born Dan Forsman each shot 1-over 73s and are tied for 61st. Schuman had three birdies and four bogeys in his round, while Forsman had two birdies and three bogeys.

Skip Kendall, a Fox Point native, was 2 over and tied for 69th after carding three bogeys and a birdie over his last six holes.

Divots

Friday’s attendance was estimated at around 15,000, which tournament organizers said was comparable to the first day of the 2016 tournament. ... General spectator parking is expected to return to the adjacent Zimmer cross country course today after being redirected to Verona schools on Friday.