Tim O’Neal, an alternate in the first PGA Tour Champions major of 2023, is tied for lead

Tim O’Neal was one of five golfers who earned a 2023 PGA Tour Champions card at Q-School last December.

Five months later, he’s bidding to claim his first senior major.

At the senior circuit’s first major of the year, the Regions Tradition at Greystone Golf & Country Club in Birmingham, Alabama, O’Neal shot a 5-under 67 and is tied for the lead with Billy Andrade and Paul Broadhurst.

O’Neal, who had his best Champions finish, a tie for 10th a week ago, posted eagles on No. 18 – he played the back nine first – and then a second eagle two holes later on No. 2. Both holes are par 5s.

“I was able to hit 4-iron into the 18-green to about five feet for eagle. Then the other eagle was on the first par 5 on the front 9, hole 2. I was able to hit 8-iron in there and made about a 12-footer for eagle,” he said. He added that putting was the key for him on Thursday.

“I was finally able to start making some putts and hopefully I can continue doing that.”

He had three birdies and two bogeys along the way before closing with five straight pars.

There are four golfers at 4 under, a shot back of the lead, including defending champion Steve Stricker. He’s joined by Ernie Els, Ken Duke and Padraig Harrington.

Bernhard Langer is among six golfers two shots back at 3 under.

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