By the time he finished his round Friday, Tommy Armour III had already taken the lead with a 9-under-par 63. A couple of hours later, when the first round of the 3M Championship was complete, his mark stood.
But after scoring the lowest on a day it seemed the whole field was going lean, it wasn't too surprising that Armour wasn't jumping for joy.
In his first year on the Champions Tour, Armour has placed in the top 10 in six of his 12 events, and three of those have been runner-up finishes. But the two-time PGA Tour winner thinks of those tournaments less as accomplishments as he does near-victories that were squandered.
"I was a little disappointed with the last few weeks," Armour said. "I've had some tournaments I could have won, but I didn't."
Armour started out his 50-and-over tour career with a second-place finish at the ACE Group Classic in Naples, Fla. Three months later, he came close again, but David Eger edged him out by one stroke at the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic in Gulfport, Miss.
By the time Armour took home his third runner-up, at the Principal Charity Classic in West Des Moines, Iowa, in June, he'd become a little frustrated with opportunities lost. In each of his six top-10 finishes, Armour has had one round that significantly stuck out from the rest, but has been unable to repeat those rounds consistently.
"Out here, you've got to play good every day," said Armour, who had no bogeys and nine birdies Friday, including his last three holes. "You look at the scores that are winning tournaments, and they're pretty good scores. It's a 54-hole tournament. The lead today doesn't really matter."
One of the keys for Armour was his execution on the ninth hole, ranked No. 1 on the TPC Twin Cities course for its difficult sloping fairway that wraps around a lake. Friday, Armour was one of only 10 of the 78 players in the field that birdied the hole, placing his 7-iron shot 25 feet from the hole and making the putt. It was also the most-often double-bogeyed hole, with six players tripping two strokes.
"This kind of golf course is right up his street," said Nick Price, who played in the same group with Armour in West Des Moines, besting the tour newcomer by four strokes in the victory. "There is a lot of shot-making, a lot of really different-shaped tee shots and you don't have to, but it really helps if you can shape the iron shots, and he's really good at that."
Price finished Friday's round tied for sixth at 6-under 66.
"There are some guys that come on to his tour and win right away," Price said. "Other guys there's a little bit of a grace period where they start feeling really comfortable out here. His time's getting really close. I don't think it's going to be too long before he wins."