The 50-year-old is part of a six-way tie at the top with Wesley Short Jr, Barry Lane, Scott McCarron, Tim Petrovic and American PGA Professional Stuart Smith also posting 66s at The Golf Club at Harbor Shores in Benton Harbor.
Lonard played his first and only other Champions Tour event at the Senior Open Championship last year and finished 3rd behind Bernhard Langer and Corey Pavin and the Senior PGA is his first competitive tournament since the New Zealand Open almost three months ago, some of that delay because of injury.
“Well it was obviously a pretty nice day,” said Lonard. “I think we got pretty lucky with the weather, it was perfect conditions. The course is wonderful, greens are fantastic.
"So I didn't really make a lot of mistakes, got lucky on one hole, the fifth hole, but I made par there on the par-5, hit it in the hazard there.
“The last time I played was three months ago, so obviously I would rather play every week, there would be less pressure. But no, it's just great to be here, I'm playing pretty good, so I'll just keep throwing my hat in the ring and see what happens.”
“Really good,” added Lonard when asked about a recent elbow injury. “It went really well yesterday so I knew I was going to be all right. It's just a matter of maintaining it for the next couple of days and hopefully getting in position on Sunday."
Lonard’s round was bogey-free over the relatively short but testing Jack Nicklaus designed layout and he will now have the opportunity to advance his cause with an early tee time (8.40am) on day two.
Lonard’s fellow Australian, David McKenzie, now a member of the Champions Tour, also started well with a round of 68 to be in a share of 9th place.
New Zealander Mark Brown is at 1 over 72, Peter Fowler 73, Greg Turner 74 and Glenn Joyner 78.
The tournament carries a purse of $US3 million with US$540,000 given to the winner.
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