AT&T Championship: First-round notebook

October 24, 2008
Phil Stambaugh, PGA TOUR Staff

SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- For the second consecutive year, there's a Mark at the top of the leaderboard after the first round of the AT&T Championship. One year after Mark O"Meara carded an 8-under 63 at Oak Hills in Round 1, England's Mark James fired the same score Friday, his career-low score on the Champions Tour.

Inside the Numbers
18-Hole Leaderboard
Player Score
1. Mark James 63 -8
2. Dan Forsman 64 -7
3. Keith Fergus 65 -6
T4. Walter Hall 66 -5
T4. Dave Stockton 66 -5
T4. Gene Jones 66 -5
T7. Jay Haas 67 -4
T7. Jeff Sluman 67 -4
T7. Craig Stadler 67 -4
T7. Bruce Vaughan 67 -4
T7. Gil Morgan 67 -4
T7. Tom Purtzer 67 -4

• James' Friday round included six consecutive birdies on the back nine, matching the best birdie streak on the Champions Tour in 2008 (Scott Simpson/Allianz Championship/Rd. 2, Jeff Sluman/Regions Charity Classic/Rd. 3).

• Friday marked only the second time Mark James has been a leader after the first round of a Champions Tour event. The last time he was in this position was at the 2007 Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf, when it had a stroke-play format. After the first round of that event, James' 5-under 67 led Tom Purtzer, Jay Haas and Tom Kite by one stroke. James eventually finished tied for third in the Legends event that year.

Mark James has experienced some prior success at Oak Hills. He tied for 46th in 2004, finished third in 2005, tied for 13th in 2006 and tied for seventh last year.

Fred Funk, the 2006 AT&T Championship winner, 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 2008, eight of 28 Champions Tour events have been won by first-round leaders/co-leaders, including two of the last four events on the circuit.

Dan Forsman's 7-under-par 64 Friday matched his low career round on the Champions Tour. Forsman carded 64 in the final round of the Boeing Classic near Seattle. He's making his eighth appearance on the Champions Tour since joining the circuit in late July of 2008. On the PGA TOUR, Forsman played 20 events in San Antonio and had his best finish at the 1993 H.E.B. Texas Open at Oak Hills. That year, Forsman was tied for fifth and carded a 7-under 64 in the opening round.

Dave Stockton's tie for fourth finish last week at the Administaff Small Business Classic was his best on the Champions Tour since a tie for fourth at Oak Hills at the 2004 AT&T Championship. The 66-year-old Stockton kept the momentum going Friday by matching his age with a 5-under 66. It marked the third time in his career that Stockton shot his age. He first did it at the 2007 Toshiba Classic with a 6-under 65 in the second round. Last year at Oak Hills, Stockton carded a 6-under 65 in the second round and went on to finish tied for seventh.

• The first-round stroke average for the field Friday was 70.705 compared with 70.831 on Friday last year. The field averaged 70.603 in the opening round in 2006 and in 2005, the field averaged 70.897 on Friday. A total of 30 players had rounds in the 60s Friday compared to 28 players with sub-70 rounds on Friday last year and 32 sub-70 scores on Friday in 2006.

• The par-4 11th hole played as the most difficult (4.321), but the par-4 7th hole (4.154) yielded just six birdies. For the second consecutive year on Friday, the par-5 15th hole played as the easiest (4.538), yielding three eagles and 42 birdies among the 78 players in the field.

Jim Colbert had the only eagle on a par 4 Friday. At the 367-yard, par-4 17th hole, Colbert's second shot with a wedge from 107 yards found the cup.

Dan Forsman and Keith Fergus had the only bogey-free rounds Friday.

• Defending champion John Cook carded a 2-under 69 (tie for 21st). Cook 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.

Gil Morgan (4-under 67) got off to a good start in his quest to earn a spot in next week's Charles Schwab Cup Championship in Sonoma. Morgan has appeared in the season-ending event in each of the last 11 years but is currently on the outside looking in.

Jay Haas, currently in third place in the Charles Schwab Cup race, got off to a good start this week with a 4-under 67 in the opening round. Haas trails Schwab Cup leader Fred Funk by just 97 points entering this week. Funk started slowly today with even-par 71. Bernhard Langer, currently in second place just 84 points back of Funk, is idle this week. Next week after the Charles Schwab Cup Championship, the player earning the most points will receive a $1 million payout.

Blaine McCallister, a five-time winner on the PGA TOUR, made his Champions Tour debut and carded a 5-over 76 at Oak Hills Friday. McCallister won the 1991 H.E.B. Texas Open at Oak Hills.

• Two players hit 13 of 14 fairways Friday (Tom McKnight, Mark McNulty). ... Jim Thorpe had the longest measured drive of the day, 336 yards at the par-4 11th hole. ... Fulton Allem, Dan Forsman and Lonnie Nielsen hit 16 of 18 greens. ... Bruce Fleisher needed just 23 putts Friday with 13 one-putts.