COLUMBUS, Ga. -- Howard Twitty had six birdies on the back nine yesterday to complete an 8-under-par 62 and take the first-round lead of the Southern Open.
Twitty, a 16-year PGA Tour veteran who has been bothered by back problems for nearly a year, led Frank Conner and hometown favorite Larry Mize by two strokes in the $600,000 tournament over the 6,775-yard Green Island County Club course.
Mike Donald, Dillard Pruitt and Canadians Dan Halldorson and Jim Nelford finished at 65. Sam Randolph and Mark Lye were another stroke back.
Davis Love III and Bob Tway led a large group at 67, and defending champion Ted Schulz was at 68.
Twitty's 62 was one shot off the tournament record set by three golfers -- the most recent being Dave Barr in 1988.
Twitty, who has won twice on tour -- but not since 1980 -- had nine birdies and a bogey in his round, which was played under perfect conditions.
His 29 on the back nine included a birdie putt of 45 feet. The other birdies ranged from five to 10 feet. His only bogey came on the 226-yard seventh hole, at which he three-putted from 40 feet. He had short birdie putts on Nos. 3, 6 and 8.
"It was fun. You have to make a lot of putts for that to happen," Twitty said. "I had a lot of opportunities for birdies, and fortunately I made most of them."
Twitty, who took five months off late last year to rest a stiff back, made the cut only three time in his first 14 tournaments this year.
But, since an eighth-place finish in Atlanta in May, he has earned all but $6,000 of his $90,319.
"My back was hurt for quite a while, but this summer it has been a lot better," said Twitty, who said his back problems began about three years ago. "I've seen a steady improvement since about early May, and it's been 100 percent the last month or so."
LAYTONSVILLE -- Del Snyder, of the Golden Horseshoe course in Williamsburg, Va., birdied the 17th hole and won the annual Seniors championship of the Middle Atlantic Professional Golfers' Association at Laytonsville Golf Course. Snyder shot 35-3368 for the day's low round and finished with a 36-hole total of 1-under-par 139.
First-round leader Dick Canney of Chantilly National in Centreville, Va., was 2-under for the tournament on the 16th tee, but double-bogeyed when a non-tournament player on the 15th fairway hit a shot and yelled "Fore!" in the middle of Canney's backswing. He flinched, hit the ball out of bounds, and finished 70-70-140.
Snyder, 56, a former MAPGA Section champion, hit 13 greens and birdied the 10th from 10 feet and the 17th from seven feet for a 68 over the 6,221-yard Montgomery County course. Fred Ryder closed with a 69 for 141 and third place. Host professional Dave Walker hit 34 of the 36 greens in regulation and would have been in contention but for 13 three-putt greens.