Former champion Kirk Hanefeld shot a 6-under 66 on Thursday at rain-softened River Creek to take the first-round lead in the Senior PGA Professional National Championship.
The 55-year-old Hanefeld, from Acton, Mass., had seven birdies and a bogey. He won the 2008 event.
''I got off to a good start and it was the best day to play this course. It was much more playable today than it was in the practice round,'' Hanefeld said. ''I'm very happy that I could do well here, considering the course we play tomorrow (Creighton Farms) is one of the hardest two or three courses that I've ever played.''
Tom Herzan of Findlay, Ohio, and Mike Lawrence of Anderson, S.C. were two strokes back. They also opened at River Creek Club. Because of the wet conditions, preferred lies were used.
James Kane of Edmond, Okla., had a 69, the best score at Creighton Farms' Jack Nicklaus Signature Course. The final two rounds will be played at Creighton Farms, which had a stroke average nearly three strokes higher (78.20 to 75.30) than River Creek Club.
''What a fantastic golf course!'' Kane said. ''I just played really solid. I only missed two greens all day and got it up and down on both of them. It's very difficult. You had to be very cautious where to leave the ball on the greens and the pins were good but if you hit good shots you got rewarded.''
The top 35 finishers will earn spots in the Senior PGA Championship in May at Harbor Shores in Benton Harbor, Mich. The top five will receive exemptions into the final stage of the 2011 Champions Tour Q-school.