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Irwin, 2 others in front at Burnet Senior

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COON RAPIDS, Minn. — Two-time champion Hale Irwin shot a 7-under-par 65 Friday to share the first-round lead at the Coldwell Banker Burnet Classic with Ed Dougherty and Allen Doyle.

Good weather and favorable course conditions helped 46 of the 78 players break par.

Irwin, the Burnet champion in 1997 and last year, had seven birdies in a bogey-free round. It was his ninth straight sub-par round at the Bunker Hills layout; he's a combined 46 under for those nine rounds.

"Birdies were the name of the game today," Irwin said. "If you don't make birdies, you'll get lapped. All you had to do was look at the scoreboard to see what you had to do."

It's the fourth consecutive year Irwin opened the Senior PGA Tour event with a 65 or better. Each year he's either led or been within one shot of first place after the opening round.

"In a three-day format, you have to get out well, stay ahead of the pack, and play with some sense of urgency," Irwin said. "That's particularly the case on a course like this that gives so many low scores. If you don't, you end up trying to make up too many shots on the weekend. You can't be content with 4- or 5-under-par rounds, because that's not going to get it done at week's end."

Irwin birdied holes No. 6, 8, 9, 11 and 12 to move to 6 under. He parred five consecutive holes before he sank an 18-foot putt for birdie on No. 18 that tied Dougherty and Doyle.

Dougherty, searching for his first senior victory in three years on tour, had five birdies and one bogey on the back nine as he matched his low round of the season.