Leif Carlson leads after first round of Minnesota Senior Amatuer
Leif Carlson <br>(MGA Photo)
Leif Carlson
(MGA Photo)

GOLDEN VALLEY, MN (August 29, 2016) -- Helped by a pair of birdies on his front nine Monday, Leif Carlson fired a 2-under par 71 to take the early lead at the 95th Minnesota Golf Association Senior Amateur Championship at Golden Valley Golf and Country Club.

Carlson leads fellow two-time champion Jim Lehman by one stroke following Lehman’s 1-under par 72 Monday, as the only two players in a field of 153 to card rounds below par.

“I drove the ball well and hit a lot of greens. I never got in much trouble today,” Carlson said Monday. “The course is set up nice—it’s softer because of the rain and so much different than I’m used to here. Even though the greens are still really quick, they play differently. It’s hard to get used to.”

Playing one of his most consistent rounds of the season Monday, Carlson birdied the opening hole after putting his approach to 10 feet to quickly move below par for the round.

Carlson, winner in 2008 and 2010, carded his second birdie of the round at the par-5 sixth hole, rolling in a 25-footer to get to 2-under. He would finish the day with 12 consecutive pars to pace the field after the opening round at 2-under par 71.

“Tomorrow I just need to get the ball in the fairway, if I can do that, life’s good,” Carlson said of his game plan for Tuesday’s second round. “I’ve been hitting the ball well, so it would be nice to play well [this week]. I don’t have expectations at my age anymore."

Lehman, who won back-to-back titles in 2013 and 2014, moved into red numbers with a birdie from four feet at the par-4 fourth, but would turn at even following a bogey at the ninth where he was unable to get up-and-down from the sand short of the bunker.

Hitting what he called “an unusual Lehman fade” off the 16th tee, Lehman put his approach to eight feet with a 7-iron and converted birdie to finish the day one shot off the lead at 71.

“I played really solid. I’ve been on a streak of playing a lot of good golf and over the weekend I played well, so leading into it I felt pretty good,” Lehman said Monday. “This whole summer I’ve played a lot of good golf but haven’t gotten anything out of it. I didn’t birdie any of the par-5s—I need to work on that for tomorrow.

“This is a great golf course and I think it plays into my strengths,” he said. “I can usually drive it pretty well, so today I hit the fairway a lot and hit a lot of greens. I played for 23 years at the Minneapolis Golf Club, so this style of golf course I really enjoy playing."

With the combination of a low ball flight and his home course being Windsong Farm, Lehman said he’s typically unaffected by the wind, which picked up during Monday’s afternoon swing and attributed to higher scores during the opening round.

Skip Schultz and Greg Murphy each carded rounds of 1-over par 74 Monday and will begin Tuesday’s second round tied for third.

Carl Horsch Jr. knocked in his tee shot at the 171-yard fifth hole using a 7-iron and, just as impressive, carded an eagle on the ensuing hole. He finished the day at 1-over par 74 and in a tie for fifth place.

The second round of the 95th MGA Senior Amateur Championship gets underway Tuesday at 8 a.m. at Golden Valley Golf and Country Club.

ABOUT THE Minnesota Senior Amateur

The Championship will consist of three divisions: Senior (55-64), Master (65-74) and Grand Master (75 and over). All players in the Championship will play 18 holes of stroke play each of the first two days. Master and Grand Master champions will be determined after 36 holes. Senior Division results will be determined after 54 holes.

There will be a cut after 36 holes, and the 36 lowest scoring players (plus ties) from the Senior and Master Divisions, will continue and play an additional 18 holes on the final day of competition.

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