AT&T Championship: First-Round Notebook

October 19, 2007
By Phil Stambaugh PGA TOUR staff

SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- The Class of 2007 is starting to assert itself on the Champions Tour. Last week in Houston on Friday, two-time Masters champion Bernhard Langer shot 62 and was the first-round leader at the Administaff Small Business Classic. Langer went on to win in only his fourth career start on the circuit, shooting a record-tying 25-under-par 191 total and besting another rookie on the circuit, two-time major championship winner, Mark Meara, by seven strokes. Friday's first-round leader was O'Meara, who fired an 8-under-par 63 and took a two-stroke lead over Wayne Levi and John Cook, making just his second start on the Champions Tour.

Player Score
1. Mark O'Meara 63 -8
T2. John Cook 65 -6
T2. Wayne Levi 65 -6
T4. Fred Funk 66 -5
T4. Craig Stadler 66 -5
T4. Tom Purtzer 66 -5
T4. Tom Kite 66 -4
T8. Scott Simpson 67 -4
T8. Mark James 67 -4
T8. Gil Morgan 67 -4
T8. D.A. Weibring 67 -4

• Mark O'Meara's 8-under 63 Friday was his career-low score on the Champions Tour and also matched his low round at Oak Hills (Round 4, 1990 H.E.B. Texas Open). O'Meara's 7-under 29 on the back nine matched the low 9-hole score on the Champions Tour this year (Chip Beck/Rd. 3/3M Championship, Des Smyth/Rd. 2/First Tee Open at Pebble Beach).

• Mark O'Meara is currently on a run of five straight sub-70 rounds and is 30 under par for this stretch that started with a final-round 65 (5 under) at the Constellation Energy Senior Players Championship.

• Friday marks the first time Mark O'Meara has been a leader/co-leader after the first round of a Champions Tour event. The last time he was in this position on the PGA TOUR was at the 2005 84 Lumber Classic, when he shared the opening-round lead with Jason Gore, Charlie Wi and Shaun Micheel.

• Mark O'Meara has a pretty good track record at Oak Hills. Not only did he win the H.E. B. Texas Open at this course in 1990, but he also finished tied for third in both the 1984 and 1985 Texas Open and was tied for eighth at the 1994 Texas Open. O'Meara is bidding to become the seventh player to win both a PGA TOUR and Champions Tour event in San Antonio. The others are Don January (1975 Texas Open, 1985 AT&T Championship), Bruce Crampton (1964 & 1986), Chi Chi Rodriguez (1967 & 1987), Lee Trevino (1980 & 1991-92, 1998), John Mahaffey (1985 & 1999) and Jay Haas (1982, 1993 & 2005). Only Haas has captured two Valero Texas Open titles and one AT&T Championship all at Oak Hills.

• Mark O'Meara's two-stroke lead matches the largest first-round margin at this event since it's been played at Oak Hills (John Harris/2005, George Archer/2002).

• Last year's winner, Fred Funk, is the only first-round leader/co-leader to go on and win since the event moved to Oak Hills in 2002. Thus far in 2007, 10 of 27 Champions Tour events have been won by first-round leaders/co-leaders, including each of the last four events on the circuit.

• The first-round stroke average for the field Friday was 70.831. The field averaged 70.603 in the opening round last year and in 2005, the field averaged 70.897 on Friday. A total of 28 players had rounds in the 60s Friday compared to 32 sub-70 scores on Friday last year.

• The par-3 13th hole played as the most difficult (3.260) but the par-4 7th hole yielded just four birdies (Scott Hoch, Mitch Adams, Tom Wargo, Jim Dent). The par-5 15th hole played as the easiest (4.442), yielding four eagles and 40 birdies among the 77 players who completed their rounds Friday.

Larry Nelson had the only eagle on a par 4 Friday. Nelson holed his second shot from the fairway at the 309-yard eighth hole.

John Cook, Wayne Levi and Mark Wiebe had the only bogey-free rounds Friday.

• Defending champion Fred Funk carded a 5-under 66 (tied for fourth). Funk is attempting to become the third player in tournament history to successfully defend a title. Lee Trevino (1991-92) and Jim Albus (1994-95) are the only other players to win on the Champions Tour in San Antonio in consecutive years.

• 2003 AT&T Championship winner Craig Stadler (5-under 66) got off to a good start in his quest to earn a spot in next week's Charles Schwab Cup Championship in Sonoma. Stadler has appeared in the season-ending event in each of the last four years but is currently on the outside looking in. Both Jim Thorpe and Tom Jenkins have played in the Schwab Cup Championship eight straight years, however their streaks are also in jeopardy.

• The top two players in the Charles Schwab Cup race both posted 3-under 69s Friday. Loren Roberts currently leads Jay Haas by just 69 points in the battle for the $1 million annuity. Last year at Sonoma Golf Club, Haas nipped Roberts by 20 points for the Charles Schwab Cup, the closest race ever.

• R.W. Eaks withdrew from the event with a knee injury after playing five holes. Eaks was 3 over par for the tournament at the time of the withdrawal.

• Five players hit 12 of 14 fairways Friday (Mitch Adams, Jim Ahern, Jim Albus, Wayne Levi, Mark McNulty). ... Dick Mast and Tom Purzer had the longest measured drives of the day, both 358 yards at the par-4 11th hole. ... Fred Funk hit 17 of 18 greens. ... Jay Haas, Lonnie Nielsen and Tom Wargo averaged 24 putts on their round Friday.