Notebook: Constellation SENIOR PLAYERS, Rd. 1

June 27, 2013

By Dave Senko, Champions Tour staff

-- John Huston’s 5-under-par 65 gave him the first-round lead at the 31st annual Constellation SENIOR PLAYERS Championship. Huston’s 65 was his best start since he posted a 7-under-par 65 in the first round at Dick’s Sporting Goods Open last summer. Fred Couples, Duffy Waldorf, Russ Cochran and Fred Funk share second place, following 4-under-par 66s at Fox Chapel Golf Club.

-- Huston had quite a turnaround from his final round here a year ago. Huston had closed with an 11-over-par 81 last year to post a T71 finish here. On Thursday, he parlayed five birdies and an eagle on his way to a 5-under-par 65, a 16-stroke improvement.

-- Prior to today’s start, Huston has completed just one tournament since March due to back problems and that was last week at the Encompass Championship where he finished T32.

-- Duffy Waldorf is off to another fast start. The former UCLA standout shot a 4-under-par 66 and is currently T2.

-- In his four previous first-rounds, Waldorf was T1 at the Encompass Championship, T3 at the Regions Tradition, T1 at the Principal Charity Classic and T1 at the Senior PGA Championship.

-- Colin Montgomerie’s debut on the Champions Tour’s began with a 1-under-par 69. He is an eight-time winner of the European Tour’s Order of Merit and also won 31 times on that tour.

-- The Constellation SENIOR PLAYERS Championship traditionally has been a favorite among first-time starters. Miller Barber (1983), Chi Chi Rodriguez (1986), Jack Nicklaus (1990), Jim Albus (1991), Dave Stockton (1992), Craig Stadler (2003), Mark James (2004), Peter Jacobsen (2005) and Joe Daley (2012) all won in their first appearances in this championship.

-- Fred Funk is off to another good start in this tournament. He was second after the first round a year ago following an opening-round 65 and he started with a 4-under-par 66 on Thursday. He is currently one of four players one behind John Huston. Funk owns four top-10 finishes in six starts in this event, including T9 in 2012.

-- Jay Haas’ run of consecutive sub-par rounds increased to 13 following his 1-under-par 69 on Thursday. That is the best streak in that category on Tour this year.

-- Joey Sindelar returned to the Champions Tour and made his first start since mid-February following a lengthy layoff due to a back problem. He shot a 72 on Thursday and is T56.

-- Defending champion Joe Daley opened with a 1-over-par 71 and is currently T44.

-- Bob Gilder is playing in his 61st consecutive major championship on the Champions Tour on Thursday and extended his record for consecutive starts in majors on the Champions Tour. Gilder has never missed playing in a major championship as a member of the Champions Tour and his best finishes during that span were a third place at the 2001 Senior PGA Championship and a T3 at the 2002 Regions Tradition.

-- Greensburg, Penn., native Rocco Mediate fired an even-par 70 in his return to his area roots.

-- Kirk Triplett’s streak of par/better rounds ended at 14 when he shot a 4-over-par 74. He is just one of three players to have finished in the top-10 in the first two major championships. The others were Russ Cochran and Duffy Waldorf.

-- Mark Calcavecchia was the only player in the 81-player field to post a bogey-free round. Calcavecchia’s round included two birdies and 16 pars.

-- Kohki Idoki, the winner of the Senior PGA Championship, opened with a 75 and is T76, while David Frost, the Regions Tradition winner, shot a 68 and is T11.

-- Several Champions Tour professionals have their sons working as their caddies this week. Among those utilizing their sons are Peter Senior (Mitchell), Russ Cochran (Ryan), Bill Glasson (Max), John Huston (Travis), Jeff Freeman (Kiefer), Steve Jones (Cy), Larry Nelson (Josh), Wayne Levi (Brian) and Mike Reid (John). In addition, Jim Rutledge has his wife, Jill, serving in that role and David Frost has his brother, Mike, on the bag.

-- The area has received 3.6 inches of rain in the last two days, including nearly a half-inch this morning which delayed the start of play for nearly five hours.

-- A total of 29 players finished with rounds below par and there were 43 rounds par/better. Last year there were 20 sub-par rounds and 32 rounds par/better. Overall, the field averaged 70.444 for the day, nearly a stroke lower than last year’s opening-round average of 71.318. The toughest hole was No. 8 with an average score of 4.457. There was just one birdie and it was made by Fred Funk.