Round 1 notebook: Walmart First Tee Open

September 04, 2009
Phil Stambaugh, PGA TOUR Staff

• For the second time this year on the Champions Tour, the defending champion has the first-round lead. Jeff Sluman's 7-under 65 at Del Monte today matched his best opening round on the Champions Tour in 2009 and was his fourth consecutive round in the 60s at this event. At the season-opening Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai, Sluman opened with 65 and eventually finished T4, his top effort in a stroke-play event in 2009. Earlier this year at the Toshiba Classic, Bernhard Langer was the defending champion and held sole possession of the opening-round lead after posting a 6-under 65 at Newport Beach CC. He eventually finished T9 in defense of his title.

• Today marks the first time Jeff Sluman has led a Champions Tour event after the opening round. On the PGA TOUR, Sluman led or co-led after the first round 13 times, most recently at the 2005 Memorial where he eventually finished T3. He never won a PGA TOUR event as a first-round leader/co-leader.

Jeff Sluman's 65 today gives him a current streak of 11 opening rounds at par or better. The last time he started a stroke-play event on the Champions Tour with an over-par score was when he shot 1-over 72 on Friday at the Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am.

• Four of the top-five players on the first-round leaderboard have already won professional titles at Pebble Beach. In addition to Walmart First Tee Open At Pebble Beach defending champion Jeff Sluman, Olin Browne (-6) claimed the 2001 Callaway Invitational on the Monterey Peninsula and Tom Kite (-5) won the 1983 Bing Crosby National Pro-Am and 1992 U.S. Open here. Mark O'Meara (-5) is a five-time winner of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

• Thus far on the 2009 Champions Tour, Friday leaders/co-leaders have won four of the 18 official events played and Bernhard Langer was the last first-round leader to win when he went wire-to-wire at the Triton Financial Classic in early June. First-round leaders have won this event only once (Hale Irwin, 2005).

Loren Roberts has been on quite a roll lately. The Champions Tour's Player of the Month for August, Roberts kept his momentum going with a 6-under 66 today at Del Monte. It was the fifth straight event that began with a round in the 60s. Since winning the Senior British Open at Sunningdale in late July, Roberts was T4 at the U.S. Senior Open, T5 at the JELD-WEN Tradition and a winner last week at the Boeing Classic in Seattle.

• In the pro-junior competition, the team of David Eger and Will Bishop of Lexington, KY are the leaders at 9-under 63. Loren Roberts and Clifton Jordan of Memphis trail by one stroke.

• Eight of the top-11 players on the leaderboard played their opening round at Del Monte Golf Course. Mark O'Meara had the best round at Pebble Beach (-5), followed by Mark McNulty (-4) and Gene Jones(-4).

• The stroke average for Round 1 at Pebble Beach was 73.205 compared to 71.000 at Del Monte. There were 14 rounds in the 60s at Del Monte today and only four sub-70 scores at Pebble Beach. Last year in the opening round, Del Monte averaged 70.436 (-1.564) and Pebble Beach averaged 73.641 (+1.641).

Keith Clearwater, a two-time winner on the PGA TOUR, turned 50 on September 1 and was given a sponsor exemption into this year's Walmart First Tee Open At Pebble Beach. Playing Pebble Beach today, Clearwater posted a 2-under 70 in his debut on the Champions Tour.

• On his 60th birthday, World Golf Hall of Fame member Tom Watson carded a 2-under 70 at Del Monte Golf Course. Before his round, Watson was presented with a birthday cake by his junior partner, 17-year-old Gianna Misenhelter, a member of the First Tee of Greater Kansas City.

Jeff Sluman and Olin Browne both posted bogey-free rounds today. Tim Simpson, Ronnie Black and John Harris all made eagles at No. 6, the only eagles of the day at Pebble Beach. There were two eagles made at Del Monte in Round 1 (James Mason/No. 1, Jerry Pate/No. 17). Mark McNulty birdied six of his first seven holes at Pebble Beach on Friday and his five birdies in a row (holes 3-7) were one fewer than the 2009 best birdie streak (Mark James, 6, Allianz Championship). McNulty's 6-under 30 on the front nine at Pebble was the low-9 of the day on either course.

• This and That: Joe Ozaki and Bobby Wadkins hit all 14 fairways today. Ozaki played at Del Monte while Wadkins played at Pebble Beach...Jeff Sluman hit 16 of 18 greens in regulation (88.9%), the most by a player in the field...Mark O'Meara needed just 22 putts today...Lonnie Nielsen had the longest measured drive of the day, 325 yards at the par-4 10th hole at Pebble Beach.