Notebook: Rd. 1, Greater Hickory Kia Classic

Stan Badz/PGA TOUR
Dick Mast is tied early in a quest for a first Champions Tour win.
October 18, 2013
By Phil Stambaugh, Champions Tour staff

Weather: Partly cloudy with high temperatures only in the mid-60s and winds from the NE at 5-10 mph.

First-Round Leaderboard: 1. Anders Forsbrand 31-33--64 (-6), Bernhard Langer 31-33--64 (-6), Dick Mast 30-34--64 (-6); T4. Olin Browne 33-32--65 (-5), John Riegger 35-30--65 (-5); T6. Brad Bryant 33-33--66 (-4), Mike Goodes 33-33--66 (-4)

Anders Forsbrand of Sweden, Bernhard Langer of Germany, and America’s Dick Mast matched 6-under-par 64s at Rock Barn and share the first-round lead at the Greater Hickory Kia Classic. Forsbrand held sole possession of the lead late in the round, but three-putted from 45 feet on the par-3 7th (his 16th) hole to drop back into a tie with Langer. Mast, playing in the same group as Forsbrand, then holed a 12-foot birdie putt on the 9th hole (his 18th) to join the group.

Anders Forsbrand (31-33-64/-6)

-- Is making his 18th career start on the Champions Tour this week and 13th appearance on the circuit in 2013. Earned his way into this week’s field after finishing T5 last week at the SAS Championship in Raleigh.

-- Earlier this year, Forsbrand was T4 at the Montreal Championship, his best career-finish to date on the Champions Tour.

-- Holds a share of the first-round lead in a PGA TOUR-sponsored event for the first time in his career.

-- Won six times on the European Tour and lone victory on the European Senior Tour came at the 2012 SSE Scottish Senior Open.

-- Served as Bernhard Langer’s vice-captain in 2004 for the 35th Ryder Cup Matches at Oakland Hills near Detroit.

Bernhard Langer (31-33--64/-6)

-- Holds at least a share of the first-round lead in a Champions Tour event for the 16th time and has gone on to win from this position six times, most recently at the 2013 ACE Group Classic in February.

-- Comes into this week’s event in Hickory having finished among the top 10 in seven straight events, including a T8 last week at the SAS Championship.

-- Is making his third appearance in the Greater Hickory Kia Classic this week. Finished solo third at Rock Barn in 2010 and T9 last year.

-- Bidding to become the Champions Tour’s first three-time winner since the 2011 season and hopes to claim his 19th career victory on the circuit this week. Won earlier this year at the ACE Group Classic and at the Greater Gwinnett Championship. Also lost in a playoff at the Senior Open Championship and was second at both the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic and at the Allianz Championship.

Dick Mast (30-34—64/-6)

-- Holds at least a share of the first-round lead in a Champions Tour event for the third time in his career. Earlier this year at the Montreal Championship, Mast opened with a 69 and was the sole first-round leader before eventually finishing T9, his only top-10 performance in 19 previous starts on the 2013 Champions Tour.

-- Best career efforts on the Champions Tour were T3s at both the 2006 and 2012 Senior Open Championship, as well as the 2002 Turtle Bay Championship.

-- Is making his fifth appearance in the Greater Hickory Kia Classic and previous-best effort in the event was a T20 last year at Rock Barn.

First-round notes/statistics at the Greater Hickory Kia Classic At Rock Barn

-- Thus far on the 2013 Champions Tour, first-round leaders/co-leaders have won eight of the first 23 stroke-play events, including three of the last five tournaments.

-- First-round leaders/co-leaders have gone on to win the Greater Hickory Kia Classic only three times over the first 10 years of the tournament – Andy Bean (2006), R.W. Eaks (2007, 2008).

-- The trio of first-round co-leaders is the most ever to be tied for an opening-round lead in tournament history and it marks only the second time in tournament history that multiple players have shared the first-round lead at Rock Barn. In the inaugural event in 2003, both Bruce Fleisher and Larry Nelson shared the first-round lead after posting 8-under-par 64.

-- Defending champion Fred Funk carded a 3-under 67, his 19th straight round of par/better at Rock Barn with 18 consecutive sub-par scores. Funk’s bogey on his fourth hole of the day ended a run of bogey-free holes at Rock Barn at 87 holes in a row. Funk’s run started during the second round of the 2011 event.

-- Bob Gilder made his 1,000th combined-career TOUR start today, becoming just the 16th player in history to do so. Gilder opened with an even-par 70 and is T37 after the first round. Gilder has now played in 649 PGA TOUR events and 351 official tournaments on the Champions Tour.

-- Four players made their 11th career appearances in the Greater Hickory Kia Classic and kept their record intact of having never missed playing in Hickory on the Champions Tour – David Eger (72), John Harris (70), Larry Nelson (69) and Bobby Wadkins (73).

-- A total of 36 players broke par in the opening round on the re-configured par-70 Champions Course at Rock Barn today compared to 41 players last year on the Jones Course. The overall stroke average today on the par-70 course was 69.630 compared to 71.802 on Friday last year. Overall, the par-4 first hole played as the most difficult today (4.272), yielding just three birdies (Steve Elkington, Tom Kite, Bill Glasson). The par-5 18th hole played as the easiest, yielding two eagles (Rod Spittle, Craig Stadler) and 30 birdies, including one by each of the top-seven players on the leaderboard.

-- Mast, Olin Browne, Mike Goodes, Mark Brooks, John Inman, Loren Roberts and David Frost all posted bogey-free rounds today. … Mark Bucek, Jay Delsing and Wayne Levi hit all 14 fairways. … David Frost hit all 18 greens in regulation. … Esteban Toledo only had 26 total putts in his round today.