Notebook: Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic, Round 1

March 22, 2013

By Dave Senko, Champions Tour staff

-- With inclement weather expected to move into the area on Saturday, Champions Tour officials moved the start of the second round from 11 a.m. to 8 a.m. with players going off two tees. Saturday’s forecast calls for showers with the potential for thunderstorms, mainly in the afternoon with the chance of strong winds and hail possibly accompanying these storms.

-- Five months after undergoing left-hip replacement surgery in Naples, Fla., Hal Sutton is among four players tied for the first-round lead at the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic at 3-under-par 69. He is joined by Corey Pavin, Steve Elkington and Roger Chapman. Six players are just one stroke back, including David Frost, the winner of last week’s Toshiba Classic.

-- This marks the first time Hal Sutton either led or shared the first-round lead since he was in sole possession of first place at the 2000 The PLAYERS Championship after a 3-under-par 69 (March 23rd). Sutton went on to win that event by one stroke over Tiger Woods. His best position after the first round on the Champions Tour was a T2 at the 2009 Regions Charity Classic.

-- All four players tied for the lead have won major championships. Hal Sutton won the 1983 PGA Championship, Steve Elkington won the 1995 PGA Championship and Corey Pavin claimed the 1995 U.S. Open Championship. Roger Chapman was a long-time performer on the European
Tour, but won two major titles in 2012 – Senior PGA Championship and the U.S. Senior Open.

-- Bernhard Langer ran his streak of consecutive rounds par/better to 19, dating back to the close of the 2012 season. That is the longest current streak on the Champions Tour.

-- Defending champion Fred Couples opened with an even-par 72 and is currently T23. He was the first-round leader in 2012 after a 9-under-par 63.

-- David Eger, the winner of the inaugural Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic in 2009, shot a 1-under-par 71 and is T11. The 2010 champion, Tom Lehman, is not competing this year due to a knee injury.

-- A quartet of players made their Champions Tour debuts on Friday, including a pair of former PGA TOUR winners. Tour winner John Inman is T47 after a 2-over-par 74, while Brian Henninger is T57 after a 75. In addition Mark Bucek (78/T74) and Gary Rusnak (74/T47) also were playing in their first Champions Tour event. Rusnak played full-time on the PGA TOUR in 1996 but has competed on the Asian Tour in recent years.

-- Mark Wiebe ran his string of consecutive holes without a three-putt to 177 before he three-putted No. 10. Bob Tway also saw a lengthy streak in that category end as well. He reached 166 holes in succession before a three-putt at No. 8.

-- The field averaged 73.617, more than two strokes higher than a year ago when the field averaged 71.506. It was also the highest average for a single round at Fallen Oak. The previous high was 73. 457 in last year’s final round. Only four players posted round in the 60s and 22 players finished with rounds under par. Last year there were 21 rounds in the 60s and 44 players finished under par.

-- The most difficult hole on Friday was No. 2 with an average score of 4.370 (+.370), while No. 5 was the second hardest at 4.370 (+.370). The easiest was No. 6 4.580 (-.420), with three eagles, 37 birdies and 32 pars. There were also nine bogeys on the hole.

-- None of the 81 players in the starting field played a bogey-free round.

-- There were 215 birdies on Friday, the second-lowest total in a round in tournament history. The fewest in a round came in the final round last year when there were only 199.

-- Rookie Steve Elkington had 10 one-putts on Friday to lead all players in that category. He one-putted eight of his last 11 holes and posted a 3-under-par 69. Elkington has now posted 11 sub-par rounds in 13 starts this year.

-- Wayne Levi hit all 14 fairways on Friday.