Am Fam - Jerry Kelly on 14

Jerry Kelly acknowledges the gallery's applause following his putt on the 14th green on Sunday at the American Family Insurance Championship.

Wisconsin.Golf photo/Jim Kelsh

VICTORIA, British Columbia -- Jerry Kelly has seen a lot of new and exciting views during his first year golfing on the PGA Tour Champions.

But the Madison native can't remember many quite as lovely as the ones that surround the Mountain Course at Bear Mountain Resort.

"What can you say about the beauty of this course and this area?" Kelly asked reporters Friday. "Coming up on 14, it takes my breath away every time I see it. It’s my wife’s first time up here and Carol just loves it."

His view on the leaderboard at the Pacific Links Bear Mountain Championship wasn't too bad, either.

Kelly birdied his final hole to shoot a 6-under-par 65 and trail fellow PGA Tour Champions rookie Steve Flesch and Jerry Smith, the runner-up to Kelly at last month's Boeing Classic, by one shot. Kelly is tied for third place with a distinguished group that includes John Daly, Charles Schwab Cup standings leader Bernhard Langer and rookie David Toms, who has yet to win on the senior circuit.

Milwaukee native Skip Kendall opened with a 1-under 70 and was tied for 29th place.

Afterward, Kelly was kicking himself for not having a share of the penthouse view thanks to a bogey on the 17th hole.

"It was good getting that one back with a birdie on (No.) 18," Kelly said. "I got a couple of good breaks, but a few of my best shots I let slip away with some missed putts early and I chunked a wedge on 17. I tried to dial that one in, but I think I dialed it a little too tight. I over-thought it and the downslope got me. A very disappointing bogey from 80 yards out."

There wasn't much else Kelly could complain about in his first trip around the Mountain Course.

He birdied three of his first four holes starting out his round and spent much of the day with the lead. He added a birdie at No. 8 to make the turn in 4-under 31 and birdied the back-to-back par-5s at Nos. 12 and 13 to push his lead to two shots.

Flesch caught him with birdies on the same two par-5s and then took a one-shot advantage with another birdie on the par-5 18th. He held it outright until Smith, who birdied four holes in a row starting at No. 10 before a bogey at No. 14, birdied No. 18 to join him atop the leaderboard.

"You always like to get off to a good start so I am satisfied with 6-under," Kelly said. "You ahve to try and find a way to go low every single day, every single week. Bernhard has found a way so I am just trying to follow his example.

"I wasn't very happy with the way I started the year, but since I won I have started to play much better. Took a change of putters, a change of irons, a change of drivers, a change of shoes, you know, to play better."