Durant sets early pace in Senior PGA Championship

Thu May 22, 2014 9:36pm EDT

Joe Durant of the United States hits out of the sand on the 18th green during second round play at The Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, Georgia November 3, 2006.   REUTERS/Tami Chappell

Joe Durant of the United States hits out of the sand on the 18th green during second round play at The Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, Georgia November 3, 2006.

Credit: Reuters/Tami Chappell

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(Reuters) - American Joe Durant birdied three of his last five holes to grab a one-shot lead in Thursday's opening round of the Senior PGA Championship at Benton Harbor in Michigan.

Durant, who celebrated his 50th birthday last month to qualify for the over-50s Champions Tour, carded a six-under-par 65 on the Harbor Shores course, finishing one ahead of compatriot Dan Forsman.

"I played very well today," Durant told reporters after totaling seven birdies and a sole bogey in only his third start on the Champions Tour. "With no wind, the course is perfect for scoring.

"The greens are at a good pace where you can be aggressive. Obviously that can change over the next three days, but it was good today."

Fellow American Brad Faxon was alone in third after returning a 67 on a sunny but mainly cool day in the second of the year's five major championships for senior golfers.

Kenny Perry, who clinched last week's Regions Tradition in Alabama and is bidding to win his fourth consecutive major on the Champions Tour, opened with a 70.

"Any time you can ever shoot under par in a major, you've done a good job," said the 53-year-old American.

"I was very pleased with my round today, even though I bogeyed the last hole with an eight‑iron in my hand."

(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Greg Stutchbury)

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