Jackson Cards 68 for First-Round Lead at U.S. Senior Amateur September 26, 2015 | Egg Harbor Township, N.J. By Vanessa Zink, USGA

Tim Jackson was one four players to break par in the first round of the U.S. Senior Amateur on Saturday at Hidden Creek G.C. (USGA/Chris Keane)

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Tim Jackson, 56, of Germantown, Tenn., carded a 3-under-par 68 on Saturday to take a two-stroke lead after the first round of stroke play in the 2015 U.S. Senior Amateur Championship, being conducted on the par-71, 6,864-yard course at Hidden Creek Golf Club.

“I played a little shaky on the front, driving it, but found my sea legs around the eighth or ninth hole, and I really played well on the back,” said Jackson, who registered four birdies to one bogey, highlighted by a 25-foot birdie putt on the par-3, 114-yard 11th hole. “I'm hoping to come out tomorrow, be able to swing free and make some birdies. I like to stay aggressive in this format.”

The 1994 and 2001 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion and a two-time USA Walker Cup Team competitor, Jackson also led after the first round last year, in his U.S. Senior Amateur Championship debut at Big Canyon Country Club in Newport Beach, Calif. Jackson ended up the No. 2 seed and won one match before he was ousted, 2 and 1, in the second round of match play by 2011 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion Randal Lewis.

Lewis, 58, of Alma, Mich., was one of three players to finish Saturday’s round at 1-under 70 after battling 10-to-15-mile-per-hour winds, with 28-mph gusts.

“My putting and chipping were both really good today,” said Lewis, who carded three birdies to two bogeys on the Bill Coore-Ben Crenshaw design. “I seemed to be able to get up and down every time I missed the green. You have to be able to make tough putts in conditions like this, and I was able to do that. I like to play in difficult conditions.”

Lewis is joined at 1 under by Don Dubois, 56, of Newport Beach, Calif., and Doug Lacrosse, 63, of Tampa, Fla., both of whom played in the morning wave.

“The way the wind’s blowing, you just have to plot and make sure you’re hitting it solid and get your lines good,” said Dubois, a member at Big Canyon, where he made his U.S. Senior Amateur debut in 2014. “I hit a lot of good shots today, consistently hitting it in the middle of the greens, and I made sure I was setting myself up.”

Dubois made birdies on Nos.10 and 16, holes that produced just five and eight birdies, respectively.

Lacrosse, who carded two birdies to one bogey, said: “I was fortunate enough to catch a few breaks, which you have to have. I hit the ball pretty solidly, that’s about all I can say. But this is a really good golf course, and I need to play another good 18 tomorrow.”

Defending U.S. Senior Amateur champion Patrick Tallent, 62, of Vienna, Va., finished at 2-over 73, tied for 17th, putting himself in good position to make the 64-player field for match play. Tallent also won the 2015 Seniors Amateur Championship, conducted by The R&A, last month at Royal County Down.

Six players finished at even-par 71: Tom Brandes, 59, of Bellevue, Wash.; Randy Haag, 56, of Orinda, Calif.; Chip Lutz, 60, of Reading, Pa.; David Nelson, 59, of Reno, Nev.; Brian Rothaus, 59, of Huntingdon Valley, Pa.; and two-time USA Walker Cup Team competitor Marty West, 67, of Rockville, Md.

The U.S. Senior Amateur consists of 36 holes of stroke play, after which the field will be reduced to the low 64 scorers for match play, beginning on Monday. Six match-play rounds will determine the champion, with the 18-hole final set for Thursday at 8:30 a.m. EDT.

The U.S. Senior Amateur is one of 13 national championships conducted annually by the United States Golf Association, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.

Vanessa Zink is an assistant manager of Championship Communications for the USGA. Email her at vzink@usga.org.

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