SEASIDE, Calif. (AP) Carl Cooper shot a 6-under 66 on Thursday to take a one-stroke lead in the Senior PGA Professional National Championship.
Cooper, the 54-year-old PGA teaching professional at Humble Golf Center outside Houston, had eight birdies and two bogeys on the Bayonet Course, the site of the final two rounds.
The top 35 finishers will earn spots in the Senior PGA Championship in May at Harbor Shores in Benton Harbor, Michigan.
Cooper was disqualified from the event three years ago at the club.
''I got disqualified for having an illegal wedge,'' Cooper said. ''It's a long story, but this course kind of owes me. I deserve a little grace if it comes my way and I think I received that today. Hopefully, it lasts the rest of the week.''
Gene Fieger of Naples, Florida, the 2013 champion, and Chris Starkjohann of Oceanside, California, were a stroke back. Fieger opened at Black Horse, and Starkjohann at Bayonet.