Round 1 notes: Senior Players Championship

October 01, 2009
Dave Senko, PGA TOUR Staff

• Here is the first-round leaderboard:

1. Lonnie Nielsen (65/-5) T2. Jay Haas, Tom Watson (66/-4) 4. Sandy Lyle (67/-3) T5. Bob Tway, Dan Forsman, Mike Reid & Eduardo Romero (68/-2).

• Since his win at the Dick's Sporting Goods open in late June, first-round leader Nielsen has not posted a top-10 finish in eight starts. His best showing has been a T19 at the Walmart First Tee Open at Pebble Beach. His 5-under-par 65 today included a opening-round best eight birdies, two more than any other player. It was also his low round since his final-round 63 at the Dick's Sporting Goods Open.

• This marks just the third time in 154 career starts on the Champions Tour that Nielsen has held sole possession of the lead after the first round. He also led at the 2005 Charles Schwab Cup Championship (finished T9) and the 2008 Ginn Championship (finished T2).

• Watson's 4-under-par 66 has the World Golf Hall of Famer in a second-place tie with Haas after the opening round. Watson is currently T35 on the 2009 money list and is looking to get into the top 30 to earn a berth at the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship in Sonoma, Calif. Watson was T2 at this tournament in 2007 but missed last year while undergoing left hip-replacement surgery.

• Haas continued the strong play that led to his victory at the Greater Hickory Classic at Rock Barn two weeks ago, shooting a 4-under-par 66 in the first round. Haas, who missed two events with tendinitis in his left elbow, is currently T2.

David Frost's string of six consecutive rounds in the 60s came to a halt on Thursday when he fired a 1-over-par 71. Frost made his Champions Tour debut two weeks ago at the Greater Hickory Classic at Rock Barn where he was T9 and he was T2 in his last start at the SAS Championship.

Leonard Thompson withdrew prior to the start of the round with the flu and was replaced by Donnie Hammond, who grew up in nearby Frederick, MD.

• Thursday's opening-round scoring average of 71.603 was the highest first-round average in the three years the tournament has been contested at the Baltimore Country Club's Five Farms East Course. The highest previous average was 71.462 in 2007.

• The back nine proved to be more difficult on Thursday as the field averaged almost a stroke higher than the front nine (36.282 compared to 35.321). Four of the five most difficult holes were on the back nine.

• The 18th hole, as expected, played as the most difficult on Thursday (4.500/+.500). It was the second-hardest finishing hole on the Champions Tour in 2008. Only four players made a birdie on Thursday -- Bob Tway, Bernhard Langer, David Eger and R.W. Eaks. Hole No. 17 yielded just three birdies while playing as the fourth-hardest hole. Robin Freeman, Olin Browne and Mark O'Meara posted the birdies.

• Langer returned to the Champions Tour for the first time since playing at the Boeing Championship five weeks ago and shot a 2-over-par 72 and is currently T42. Langer recently competed in two events in Europe, one on the European Tour and another on the European Seniors Tour.

• Defending champion D.A. Weibring shot a 4-over-par 74 on Thursday.