Round 1 notes: Insperity Championship

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May 04, 2012
Phil Stambaugh, Champions Tour staff

Weather: Players off both the first and 10th tees. Partly cloudy with highs in the upper-80s and winds from the SE at 5-10 mph in the afternoon.

Round 1 Leaderboard: 1 -- Tom Lehman (-7/65); T2 -- Fred Funk (-6/66), Tom Jenkins (-6/66); T4 -- Olin Browne (-4/68), Brad Bryant (-4/68), John Cook (-4/68), David Eger (-4/68), John Huston (-4/68), Bernhard Langer (-4/68), David Peoples (-4/68), Loren Roberts (-4/68), Rod Spittle (-4/68)

• Despite making bogey on the last hole, Tom Lehman, the Champions Tour's Player of the Year in 2011, shot a 7-under 65 to take the first-round lead at the Insperity Championship. After starting slowly with just one birdie and eight pars over his first nine holes, Lehman caught fire on the back nine of the Tournament Course at The Woodlands Country Club, making five birdies and an eagle. His lone blemish on the scorecard came after an errant tee shot at No. 18 and gave him a 6-under 30 on that side, one stroke off of Fred Couples' 9-hole record set in Round 3 of the 2010 event. Lehman leads Fred Funk and 64-year-old Tom Jenkins by two strokes.

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Tom Lehman's 65 today was his best score on the Champions Tour in Houston and was his ninth consecutive sub-par score on the Tournament Course at The Woodlands Country Club. Lehman first played at this venue at the 1985 Shell Houston Open and missed the cut. He returned to the layout in early December at the 1989 PGA TOUR National Qualifying Tournament and finished well back in the six-round event, earning only conditional status on what was then the inaugural Ben Hogan Tour (now the Nationwide Tour) in 1990. After that experience in cool and windy weather, Lehman vowed never to return to the layout in his PGA TOUR career and was a man of his word until joining the Champions Tour. He's finished T4/2009, T9/2010 and T4/2011 in his three previous appearances in the Insperity Championship.

• This marks the fourth time in his Champions Tour career that Tom Lehman has been a first-round leader/co-leader. Earlier this year, Lehman was tied for the opening-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai. Prior to today, he had not been a sole leader after Round 1 of a Champions Tour event since last year's Regions Tradition which he eventually went on to win in a playoff.

Tom Lehman's best finish on the Champions Tour thus far in 2012 is a T3 at The ACE Group Classic in Naples. Last year after the first seven events, the Champions Tour's Player of the Year and Charles Schwab Cup winner had three victories and five overall top-3 finishes.

• In the previous eight Insperity Championships, Jay Haas (2006) and Bernhard Langer (2007) are the only first-round leaders/co-leaders to go on to victory. Thus far on the 2012 Champions Tour, only two first-round leaders have gone on to win (Corey Pavin/Allianz Championship, Fred Couples/Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic).

Tom Byrum's 5-under 31 on the front nine today tied the 9-hole record on that side at The Woodlands. Bernhard Langer originally established the mark in the first round last year and it was later matched by Michael Allen in the same round. Byrum, an open qualifier this week, went on to shoot two-over on the back nine and finished with a 69 despite having just 22 total putts on the day.

• Defending champion Brad Faxon shot a two-under 70 today and is T19 after Round 1 of the 2012 event. Bernhard Langer is the only player to win consecutive Insperity Championships, claiming the 2007 event at Augusta Pines and the 2008 event at The Woodlands.

Michael Allen opened with a 3-under 69 (T13) in his quest to win a third consecutive Champions Tour event. It was Allen's seventh consecutive round in the 60s in stroke-play events. Last year in the opening round of the Insperity Championship, Allen matched the 18-hole course record on the Tournament Course, shooting 9-under 63.

• With the move to the spring this year and warmer weather, there were 19 rounds in the 60s vs. the 14 scores in the 60s in Round 1 last year. In 2010, only three players broke 70 in the opening round. The field scoring average today was 71.901 vs. 72.241 on Friday in 2011 and 73.818 on Friday in 2010.

Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Lee Trevino will hold a short opportunity for accredited journalists in the media center interview room prior to playing in the one-day Greats of Golf event, which is bringing together nine of the greatest names in the history of the game.

• The Big Four have combined to win 185 PGA TOUR victories, including 40 professional major championships, before wrapping up their illustrious careers with 68 Champions Tour wins.

• They will be joined by Don January, Miller Barber, Gene Littler, David Graham and David Stockton for an 18-hole scramble format friendly competition. The entertaining group of nine have 256 PGA TOUR victories, 46 major championships and 141 Champions Tour titles.

• Just nine players have now played in all nine Insperity Championships -- Ben Crenshaw, Keith Fergus, Bob Gilder, Tom Jenkins, John Harris, Tom Kite, Wayne Levi, D.A. Weibring and Fuzzy Zoeller.

• 2011 Q-School Medalist Jeff Freeman shot even-par 72 in his debut on the Champions Tour. Freeman did not turn 50 until April 15, 2012 and is playing in the first event he's eligible for this week. Freeman's brother Robin, an open qualifier on Monday, also carded 72 today.

Tom Jenkins and Gene Jones had the only bogey-free rounds of the day ... Fred Funk made the most birdies in Round 1 with 7. Funk carded 18 birdies in four rounds at the PGA TOUR's Zurich Classic of New Orleans last week and also made nine birdies in his Thursday pro-am round this week.

• In support of Breast Cancer Awareness, volunteers and tournament staff will be wearing pink shirts tomorrow at the Insperity Championship to support the cause and pink flags will be used on each of the holes. The tournament is again a partner with the Houston affiliate of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure and fans coming to the tournament are encouraged to wear pink.

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