Jeff Maggert used a hot new putter to take the first-round lead in the Charles Schwab Cup Championship, and Bernhard Langer, Jerry Kelly, Retief Goosen and Colin Montgomerie made moves to catch Scott McCarron in the PGA Tour Champions' season standings.
Maggert shot an 8-under 63 on Thursday in perfect conditions at Phoenix Country Club to take a one-stroke lead over Langer, with Miguel Angel Jimenez, Paul Goydos and Steve Flesch another shot back, and Kelly and Goosen at 66 with Lee Janzen and Scott Parel.
Maggert entered the season finale 34th in the standings, just three spots from failing to qualify.
"I have no idea what happened today," Maggert said. "I liked the course last year, felt like I could play well here. To be honest, I got a new putter at the Ping factory on Monday and as soon as I saw it, I says, 'Wow, this looks good, I think I can make some putts with this.' Lo and behold, I made a lot of good putts today."
Kelly needs a victory or help from McCarron to take the season title.
"I'm feeling pretty good right now," Kelly said. "It's just a matter of staying solid. I got a little tired at the end, things got a little loose and I've got to get stronger as the week goes on."
McCarron, the points leader the last 20 weeks, was tied for 22nd in the 34-man field after a 69.
"Means nothing right now," McCarron said. "I don't know if I'm leading or Jerry's leading, doesn't even matter. All I know is I've got to go out there and play a little bit better the next three days."
McCarron has not won since June and has only two top 10s in his last six tournaments.
Coming off a playoff loss to Montgomerie on Sunday in California, Langer closed his bogey-free round with a birdie on the par-5 18th. Langer is third in the standings, putting the 62-year-old German star in position to win his sixth Charles Schwab Cup title — with help from McCarron and Kelly.
"You can't win it the first day, but you can lose it," Langer said. "So, I'm happy with where I am."
Montgomerie, fourth in the standings, had a 67.
Goosen, at fifth in the standings, is the last player with a chance to take the season title with a victory.
Vijay Singh, the tournament winner last year, failed to qualify.