First Round Notes
Friday October 5, 2012
Weather: Sunny and pleasant with highs near 80 and light variable winds. Lift, clean and place rules were in effect.
|T2||Jay Don Blake||67/-5|
Showing no signs of a 12-week layoff due to a back issue, Russ Cochran fired a bogey-free 6-under-par 66 to grab the first-round lead at the 12th annual SAS Championship. The 2010 winner of this event, Cochran hit all 18 greens in regulation to lead all players in that category and holds a one-stroke margin over four players, including Steve Pate, Andrew Magee, Jay Don Blake and Fred Funk. Defending champion Kenny Perry leads a group of five players two strokes behind.
Russ Cochran’s last start on the Champions Tour came at July’s U.S. Senior Open in Michigan where he withdrew after a second-round 73 due to his injury. The injury also deprived him of an opportunity to compete in the 2012 British Open as well as the chance to defend his Senior British Open crown.
Russ Cochran’s opening-round performance here shouldn’t come as any surprise. This is his fourth start at the SAS Championship and in addition to his win in 2010, he was T5 in 2009 and fourth a year ago. His 6-under-par 66 on Friday was his third 66 in the opening round at this tournament. He also had an 8-under-par 64 in 2010, which matched the lowest opening-round score in tournament history set by Jim Thorpe in 2002.
Andrew Magee’s 5-under-par 67 was his best opening round of the year. He also played all 18 holes without a three-putt increasing his current streak to 190, the third longest streak this year on the Champions Tour. Corey Pavin had a string of 260 and Loren Roberts had a run of 210 without a three-putt.
Neal Lancaster made his Champions Tour debut and shot an even-par 72. The Smithfield, NC native turned 50 on September 13.
Joey Sindelar withdrew after 15 holes due to a back injury. He is 30th on the current money list, the final position for those players who can earn a berth in the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship in Scottsdale next month.
Willie Wood’s 3-under-par 69 increased his string of par/better rounds to 25, the best streak in that category on the Champions Tour in 2012 and it includes 11 straight sub-par rounds. During his previous three starts, Wood has earned $840,000, an average of $228,000 per start with two wins to his credit. In addition, Wood did not have a three-putt on Friday and has now gone 182 holes in succession without a three-putt, second currently to Andrew Magee with 190.
Russ Cochran, Andrew Magee, Steve Pate, Tom Jenkins, Ted Schulz and Tom Purtzer all played bogey-free golf on Friday.
Curtis Strange one-putted 11 of 18 greens to lead all players in that category. David Peoples had 10 one-putts and had the day’s fewest putts – 24.
Mark O’Meara birdied all three par-3 holes on his way to a 3-under-par 69. Since his return from injury in August after more than four months away, O’Meara has posted four straight top-10 finishes, including a playoff loss to Jay Don Blake at the Boeing Classic. He was T8 in his previous start in Hawaii, T10 at the 3M Championship and a T7 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Open. Nine of his last 13 rounds have been in the 60s, including an 8-under-par 64 in the second round of the Boeing Classic. It was his lowest round since a closing-round 64 at the 2009 Boeing Classic. The last time O’Meara had four consecutive top-10 finishes was early in the 2007 season. O’Meara continues to move up the money list from the 89th position he was in just prior to his return at the 3M Championship in August. In his last four starts he has earned $311,785 ($77,946 per start) and has moved up 63 places to 36th on the money list during his run.
Allen Doyle’s 4-under-par 68 matched his low round of the year, a 68 at the Regions Tradition.
The field averaged 71.438 on Friday with 20 rounds in the 60s and 38 sub-par rounds. A year ago the first-round average was 71.367.
The most difficult hole on Friday was No. 13 with an average score of 4.225 (+.225), while the easiest was No. 17 4.350 (-.650). There were 2 eagles and 51 birdies.