Notebook: Round 1, SAS Championship

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Nick Faldo's first stateside Champions Tour event ended with a first-round withdrawal.
October 11, 2013
By Champions Tour staff

Weather: Cloudy with some brief light showers later in the afternoon. Daytime highs were in the mid-60s. Winds were from the N at 5-10 mph.

Current Leaderboard: T1. Russ Cochran 66/-6, Larry Nelson 66/-6, Mark Mouland 66/-6; T4. Mike Goodes 67/-5, Michael Allen 67/-5, David Frost 67/-5, Kirk Triplett 67/-5, Bernhard Langer 67/-5

It’s becoming old hat in this event, but once again Russ Cochran sits atop the leaderboard after the opening round of the 13th annual SAS Championship. Cochran shares the lead with Larry Nelson and Mark Mouland and it marks the fourth time in his five starts here that he has led or shared the lead in the opening round. Despite finishing 1-over on his front nine, Cochran rebounded with a stellar 7-under on his back nine to post a 30 which earned him a share of the lead. Here is where Cochran stood in each of his five previous opening rounds here at the SAS Championship: 2009 – T1; 2010 – 1st; 2011 – T2; 2012 – 1st; 2013 – T1.

-- Cochran owns three top-10 finishes in his four starts here, including a victory in 2010. He was T5 in 2009 and fourth in 2011. His 8-under-par 64 in the first round in 2010 matched the lowest opening-round score in tournament history set by Jim Thorpe in 2002.

-- Nelson’s 6-under 66 was indeed special. It allowed Nelson to match his age for the first time in his Champions Tour career. Nelson nearly did so a year ago here in the second round but missed a 10-footer for a birdie at No. 9 (he started at No. 10) and shot a 66.

-- World Golf Hall of Famer Nick Faldo, making his initial Champions Tour start in the United States, was forced to withdraw after 12 holes with an elbow injury. He was 1-over-par at the time. Faldo did make an eagle on the par-4 fifth hole.

-- It was an impressive first-round for Mouland. An open qualifier earlier in the week after posting a 63 at Wilson (N.C.) CC, Mouland’s 6-under 66 allowed him to share the first-round lead with Cochran and Nelson. That was his best first-round showing since joining the Champions Tour in 2011. His previous best was a T8 at this year’s Insperity Championship. Mouland credited much of the success for his 63 in the Monday qualifier from going back to a putter he used to win the British Boys Championship 37 years ago.

-- Defending champion Bernhard Langer got off to a good start, firing a 5-under-par 67 and is currently T4.

-- A pair of North Carolina products enjoyed solid opening rounds. Mike Goodes (Brown Summit) shot a 5-under 67, just his second sub-par start here in six appearances, while Neal Lancaster (Smithfield) opened with a 4-under 68.

-- Kirk Triplett increased his string of consecutive holes without a three-putt to 164 on Friday. That is the best current streak on the Champions Tour.

-- Triplett, Duffy Waldorf, Neal Lancaster, Joe Daley, Peter Senior and Bob Gilder all played bogey-free golf on Friday.

-- Gilder was making his 999th combined career start in a TOUR event on Friday. Gilder made 649 starts on the PGA TOUR and now has 350 on the Champions Tour. When he competes next week at the Greater Hickory Classic at Rock Barn, he’ll become the 16th player to have 1,000 combined starts.

-- Gilder and Nelson each played in their 13th SAS Championship. They are the only two players who have played in every one. Tom Jenkins had played in the previous 12 but withdrew prior to the start of this event.

-- Doug Garwood, who earned a berth in this tournament as a top-10 finisher in the previous event not otherwise exempt, opened with a 4-under 68 and is T4. Garwood had his best finish ever on the Champions Tour two weeks ago when he was T2 at the Nature Valley First Tee Open at Pebble Beach after open qualifying.

-- The field averaged 71.425 on Friday, just a shade lower than last year’s average of 71.438. There were 23 rounds in the 60s and 43 sub-par rounds.

-- The most difficult hole on Friday was No. 1 with an average score of 4.287 (+.287), while the easiest was No. 17 4.363 (-.637). There were four eagles and 44 birdies. The most difficult hole to birdie was No. 13 with just seven.