Notebook, Round 1: U.S. Senior Open

July 29, 2010
Phil Stambaugh

A total of 11 different countries are represented in this year's United States Senior Open Championship, but after the first day of play, six of the top eight players on the leaderboard are from the United States.

Only Japan's Joe Ozaki (-1/T4) and Germany's Bernhard Langer (-1/T4) are the international players on the leaderboard after Round 1. Langer, along with Mark Calcavecchia (-1/T4), posted the lowest scores among the Thursday afternoon wave.

Year Player(s) Score Margin Eventual Finish
2010 Bruce Vaughan 66 (-4) +2 ---
2009 Joey Sindelar 66 (-6) tie 2nd
  Greg Norman 66 (-6)   T4
  Andy Bean 66 (-6)   T13
  Tim Jackson (a) 66 (-6)   T11
2008 Fred Funk 65 (-5) +1 2nd
2007 Eduardo Romero 66 (-6) +1 T22
2006 Dave Barr/Jay Haas 67 (-3) tie T23/T8
2005 Craig Stadler 64 (-7) +1 T7
2004 Peter Jacobsen 65 (-6) +1 1st
2003 Tom Watson 66 (-5) +3 2nd

Here's a chart of recent first-round leads/eventual finishes at the U.S. Senior Open Championship:

Vaughan, making his third appearance in the U.S. Senior Open, carded a 4-under-par 66, his best round ever in this championship. Today marks the first time Vaughan has had sole possession of a first-round lead on the Champions Tour. He's been tied for a first-round lead three other times on the circuit, the last at the 2009 Principal Charity Classic in Des Moines, Iowa. Vaughan's best finish on the Champions Tour this year is a T5 at the Principal Charity Classic.


First-round leaders/co-leaders have gone on to win only four of the first 15 official events on the 2010 Champions Tour. Langer, last week's winner at the Senior British Open Championship, was the last to do so.

Jackson, a prominent amateur from Germantown, Tenn. and the 36-hole leader at last year's U.S. Senior Open at Crooked Stick, is in second place along with Loren Roberts, another Germantown, Tenn. resident. Both players carded 2-under 68s today. At the 2009 U.S. Senior Open in Carmel, Ind., Jackson shot 66 in the first round, setting the record for lowest round by an amateur in the championship's history and bettering the previous mark by two strokes. Jackson was the winner of the 1994 U.S. Mid-Amateur and also a two-time member of the USA Walker Cup team.

Thanks to three consecutive birdies midway through his second nine, local favorite Fred Couples was able to post an even-par 70 today (T9). It marked just the second time in his rookie year on the Champions Tour that he's started with a score as high as even par. At this year's Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am, Couples shot even-par 71 in the first round.

Corey Pavin's 2-over-par 72 today snapped a streak of TOUR events with starting rounds in the 60s at 12 straight. The 1995 U.S. Open champion who is playing in his first U.S. Senior Open had opened with a score in the 60s in his last three PGA TOUR appearances and posted sub-70 scores in all nine of his previous starts in this his rookie season on the Champions Tour.

Defending champion Funk posted a 6-over-par 76 at Sahalee today, his highest score in a U.S. Senior Open, and only his second round in the 70s in his last 10 scores in this championship. Funk is bidding to join Allen Doyle (2005-06), Gary Player (1987-88), and Miller Barber (1984-85) as only the fourth player to win consecutive U.S. Senior Open titles.

Year Course Stroke Average Relation To Par
2009 Crooked Stick GC 74.397 +2.397
2008 The Broadmoor 74.994 +4.994
2007 Whistling Straits 76.288 +4.288
2006 Prairie Dunes CC 74.917 +4.917
2005 NCR CC 74.245 +3.245
2004 Bellerive CC 75.155 +4.155
2003 Inverness CC 77.961 +6.961
2002 Caves Valley GC 76.799 +5.799
2001 Salem CC 76.622 +6.622
2000 Saucon Valley CC 74.619 +3.619

There were just eight rounds under par today, the fewest in this championship since 2003. Today's first-round scoring average at the 6,866-yard, par-70, Sahalee Country Club was 76.727 (+6.727). Here's how that compares to recent field scoring averages in the U.S. Senior Open after Round 1:

The first-round scoring average at Colorado Golf Club for this year's Senior PGA Championship was 75.716 (+3.716), the second highest for an opening round on the Champions Tour this year. The first-round scoring average last week at Carnoustie for the Senior British Open Championship was 74.958 (+3.958), the highest for a first round on the Champions Tour in 2010.

There were just two eagles made in the opening round. Tom Kite (+2/T22) had the shot of the day, holing an 8-iron out of the fairway from 142 yards at the par-4, 7th hole. Ralph West (+1/T3), a teaching pro from Avondale, Ariz., eagled the par-5, 2nd hole.

The most difficult hole at Sahalee for Round 1 was the 443-yard, par-4 8th (4.728). Among the 156-player field, only Robin Freeman and Langer made birdies were made on the hole. No. 8 was ranked as the second hardest at the 2002 World Golf Championships-NEC Invitational (4.314) and was the third hardest in the 1998 PGA Championship (4.356).

Dale Douglass, the 1986 U.S. Senior Open champion, made his 25th consecutive appearance in this championship, tying Arnold Palmer's record for most consecutive appearances in a U.S. Senior Open. The 74-year-old Douglass carded an 8-over-par 78 today. Palmer played in 25 consecutive championships with his last appearance coming in 2005.