Round 1 notes: Nature Valley First Tee Open

July 07, 2012
Phil Stambaugh, Champions Tour staff

Weather: Mostly cloudy and cool in the morning before clearing in the afternoon. Highs were in the low-to-mid 60s with winds from the WSW at 7-15 mph with gusts to 20 mph.

Tom Kite and John Cook share the first-round lead at the Nature Valley First Tee Open at Pebble Beach after the pair matched 5-under-par 67s at the Del Monte Golf Course, one of two sites serving as host courses for this event. Both Kite and Cook finished their rounds in impressive fashion. Kite birdied his final two holes, while Cook dropped in a 30-foot putt for an eagle on his final hole. Mark McNulty, Loren Roberts and Tom Pernice, Jr., all fired 4-under-par 68s and trail by one stroke.

• The 5-under-par scores posted by first-round co-leaders John Cook and Tom Kite are the highest opening-round scores since David Eger shot a 5-under-par 67 in 2004

Hale Irwin (2005) and Jeff Sluman (2009) are the only two first-round leaders/co-leaders to go on to win the event.

• Cook and Kite have had some major success on the Monterey Peninsula area in the past. Cook captured the California State Amateur at Pebble Beach in 1975, the 1981 Bing Crosby National Pro-Am and also teamed with Jack Wagner to win the Pro-Am portion of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am in 1991. Kite won his U.S. Open crown at Pebble Beach in 1992 and also won the 1983 Bing Crosby National Pro-Am.

• All but one of the top-11 players on the leaderboard played at the Del Monte Golf Course on Friday. Of the top 10 players on the leaderboard, nine of those players posted their rounds at Del Monte. The lone exception was Brad Bryant, who opened with a 3-under-par 69 at Pebble Beach. Bryant finished T2 here a year ago.

• There were just five sub-par rounds at Pebble Beach in the opening round and the scoring average was 74.659.

• This marks the first time that Kite has led or shared a first-round lead since October 2010 when he was the first-round leader at the Constellation Energy Senior Players Championship at TPC Potomas at Avenel Farm in Maryland. He eventually finished T16.

• Tom Pernice Jr. and his junior partner Evin Davis (The First Tee of Pasadena/Pasadena, Calif.) lead the Pro-Junior competition at 10-under-par 62. Steve Pate and Cameron Champ (The First Tee of Sacramento/Sacramento, Calif.) and Mark Calcavecchia and Jordan Keyser (The First Tee of Southern Nevada/Ahwahnee, Calif.) trail by two strokes.

• Defending champion Jeff Sluman, who is bidding for his fourth win in this tournament in the last five years, shot a 1-under-par 71 at Del Monte GC and is currently T16. He shot a 4-under-par 68 at Del Monte a year ago in the first round. A victory by Sluman would make him just the third player to win the same tournament four or more times. The others are Hale Irwin (1997, 2000 Kaanapali Classic, 2001, '02, '03, '05 Turtle Bay Championships; 1996, '97, '98 and '04 Senior PGA Championships) and Jack Nicklaus (1990, '91, '95 & '96 Traditions).

Jeff Sluman led all players with just 23 putts in his first round, including 13 one-putts.

Loren Roberts' 4-under-par 68 marked the fifth consecutive year he has opened the tournament with a round in the 60s.

• The amateur teams of James Lee/David Lee and Tim Hansen/Glenn Weckerlin lead the better-ball amateur competition at 15-under-par 57.

• Tom Pernice Jr. has now recorded seven straight sub-par rounds here.

Peter Senior was the lone player in the 81-man field to post a bogey-free round.

Mark McNulty and Mark Calcavecchia led all players with seven birdies.

• Open qualifier Barry Cheesman (No. 6) had the lone eagle at Pebble Beach on Friday, while John Cook (No. 9) and Mike Goodes (Par-4/No. 11) had them at Del Monte. This is Cheesman's first start on the Champions Tour.

• The field averaged 71.600 at Del Monte GC and 74.659 at Pebble Beach on Friday. Both scoring averages were the highest first-round averages in tournament history. The most difficult holes at Del Monte were Nos. 18 (4.325) and 12 (3.300). The hardest at Pebble Beach were Nos. 8 (4.537) and 14 (5.537). Surprisingly none of the 41 pros playing at Pebble Beach were able to birdies Nos. 15 and 16.