Greater Hickory Classic: First-round notebook

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September 12, 2008
Phil Stambaugh, PGA TOUR Staff

• With lift, clean and place rules in effect, defending champion R.W. Eaks matched the lowest score ever recorded on the Champions Tour in relation to par. Eaks' round equaled Walter Morgan's 11-under-par 60 (2002 AT&T Canada Senior Open, Rd. 2) and Tom Purtzer's 11-under-par 60 (2004 Toshiba Senior Classic, Rd. 1).

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• R.W. Eaks also carded his career-low score on TOUR today and his 11-under 61 was also a course record on the Jones layout at Rock Barn Golf & Spa. Eaks' previous-best on TOUR was a 10-under 62 in Round 2 of last year's Dick's Sporting Goods Open on the Champions Tour. Joe Inman (2003, Rd. 2), Andy Bean (2006, Rd. 1) and Eaks (2007, Rd. 1) all shared the old mark of 9-under 63 on the Jones Course. Eaks now has reeled off nine consecutive sub-par rounds at this event with eight of those scores being in the 60s. He's now a cumulative 43-under par over his last 126 holes at this course! Before today, Eaks' career scoring average on the Jones course was 69.25.

• Ironically, R.W. Eaks' round today is also the lowest 18-hole score posted on the Champions Tour since Tom Jenkins (currently second in this event) shot the same score in the final round of the 2006 Boeing Greater Seattle Classic. Both Tom Purtzer (MasterCard Championship at Hualalai) and Dana Quigley (3M Championship) shot 62s earlier in the 2008 campaign.

• R.W. Eaks' round today included nine birdies and an eagle. On the front nine, Eaks made an eagle followed by four birdies (No. 4-8), matching the best eagle-birdie streak on the Champions Tour this year (Bobby Wadkins/Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am, Dana Quigley/3M Championship). Eak's 7-under 29 on the front nine also matched the low 9-hole score in relation to par this year.

• R.W. Eaks' three-stroke advantage matches the largest first-round lead on the Champions Tour this year but is one stroke short of the tournament record (Andy Bean, 4 strokes, 2006). Tom Watson was three strokes in front after the first round of the Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am and Watson/Andy North led by three strokes after Round 1 of this year's Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf. In both cases, Watson went on to win. Thus far on the Champions Tour in 2008, seven of 23 first-round leaders/co-leaders have gone on to win. In each of the last two years here at Rock Barn Golf & Spa, the first-round leader went on to win in wire-to-wire fashion.

Tom Jenkins' 8-under 64 today was his best score in 16 career rounds on the Jones course. His previous-best was 6-under 66 in the first round of the inaugural event in 2003 when he went on to place fourth in the tournament, his top outing in Hickory.

Gil Morgan's 5-under 67 today gives him 14 consecutive sub-par scores on the Jones course at Rock Barn. He's now started the Greater Hickory Classic at Rock Barn with a round in the 60s in each of the last four years. Dana Quigley's 2-under 70 today gives him 11 straight sub-par scores in this event.

• With lift, clean and place rules in effect today, the Jones course at Rock Barn Golf & Spa played to a stroke average of 70.795, the lowest first-round scoring average in event history. Here's a chart of the year-by-year first-round scoring averages at this event along with the number of sub-70 scores and sub-par rounds on Friday for each event:

Year-by-year first-round scoring averages
Greater Hickory Classic
Year First-Round Stroke Avg. Sub-70 Rounds Sub-Par Rounds
2008 70.795 28 44
2007 71.141 23 44
2006 70.833 22 55
2005 72.293 19 32
2004 73.603 6 22
2003 71.210 25 43

Gene Jones (born in Rocky Mount), Jay Haas (Wake Forest) and Curtis Strange (Wake Forest) all posted 4-under 68s (tied for 12th), sharing honors for the best first-round score among the 14 players in this year's Greater Hickory Classic at Rock Barn field who have ties to the state of North Carolina.

Bob Gilder is the only player to tee it up in each of the Champions Tour events thus far in 2008. Gilder made his 117th consecutive start and carded a 3-under 69 today. Gilder's streak of events played began at the 2004 JELD-WEN Tradition and is the longest current run on the circuit. Dana Quigley holds the all-time record with 264 consecutive events played and 278 straight for which he was eligible.

Statistical News and Notes: A total of 14 players hit every fairway today...Fred Funk (third) was the only player in the field to hit all 18 greens in regulation...R.W. Eaks (first), Pat Laverty (tied for 35th) and Joe Ozaki (tied for 22nd) all had just 25 putts on the day and Ozaki one-putted 11 greens...A total of 12 players, including R.W. Eaks and Tom Jenkins, played their first rounds without making a bogey.

• Saturdays second round begins at 9 a.m. with a two-tee start.

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