By Dave Senko, Champions Tour staff
-- Jeff Sluman opened with a 7-under-par 65 and leads the 25th annual Regions Tradition by one stroke over Fred Couples. Sluman’s round included eight birdies and a bogey and it marks just the fourth time in his Champions Tour career he held sole possession of the lead in an individual stroke-play event after the first round. The last time he did so was in 2011 at the Constellation Energy Senior Players Championship. Duffy Waldorf and Peter Senior share third place after 5-under-par 67s. He and teammate Brad Faxon were the first-round leaders at the Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf, a two-man better-ball format.
-- Sluman’s 65 matched his best opening round in his Champions Tour career. He had done it six previous times with the most recent coming at the 2011 Constellation Energy Senior Players Championship
-- Sluman’s previous best finish in five previous starts in this tournament was a T 7 a year ago.
-- The last player to hold sole possession of the first-round lead at the Regions Tradition and go on to win the event was Tom Lehman in 2011. He opened with a 5-under-par 67. Prior to that was Doug Tewell in 2001.
-- Just three of the previous 10 first-round leaders have gone on to win in 2013 on the Champions Tour – Bernhard Langer (ACE Group Classic), David Frost (Toshiba Classic) and Brad Faxon/Jeff Sluman (Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf).
-- Duffy Waldorf, who has earned checks on all three Tours this year, is off to another fast start for the third week in succession. He shared the first round lead at the Senior PGA Championship two week ago, eventually finishing T6, and also shared the opening-round lead at last week’s Principal Charity Classic before finishing T3. This is Waldorf’s fourth event in a row, starting with the PGA TOUR’s HP Byron Nelson Championship where he finished T48.
-- Birmingham’s Steve Lowery was forced to withdraw prior to the start of the opening round due to a back problem. He was replaced in the 81-player field by Gene Jones.
-- Bob Gilder is competing in his 60th consecutive major championship on the Champions Tour, a Tour record. Gilder has played in every major championship since joining the Champions Tour in 2001 and his best finish in the previous 59 was a solo third in this event in 2002 as well as at the 2001 Senior PGA Championship.
-- Esteban Toledo increased his streak of consecutive holes without a three-putt to 271, the longest streak on Tour since Bernhard Langer had a string of 334 in 2009.
-- Two-time defending champion Tom Lehman continued his strong play at Shoal Creek. His 3-under-par 69 gave him seven consecutive rounds in the 60s here and nine straight sub-par rounds.
-- Lehman and Michael Allen, the only two players in the field with top-10 finishes the previous two years, are off to good starts again. Lehman is T9, while Allen is T5.
-- Duffy Waldorf, Peter Senior and Tom Jenkins all posted bogey-free rounds.
-- Thursday’s scoring average of 71.407, easily the lowest scoring average for a round here at Shoal Creek. A year ago the first-round average was 73.250. There were 47 rounds below par today compared to just 20 on Thursday in 2012.
-- The most difficult hole was No. 4 with an average score of 4.309 (+.309 over par). Just two players made birdie on the hole – David Frost and Mark Brooks. The easiest was No. 6 with an average score of 4.691
(-.309 under par).
-- There were just three eagles on Thursday -- Fred Couples (No. 6), Dana Quigley (No.3) and Craig Stadler (No. 11).
-- Hale Irwin is playing in his 18th Regions Tradition. The 68-year-old Irwin’s best finish in this event was a second in 1996. He opened with a 1-under-par 71 on Thursday.
-- Gene Jones led all players with 12 one-putts.