By PGA.com Staff
LIGONIER, Pa. -- On Tuesday, Dave Barr could barely swing a golf club, the pain in his back was that severe. But on Thursday, the gritty Canadian got it around Laurel Valley Golf Club good enough to post a 3-under par 69 that placed him one shot off Graham Marsh's first-round lead.
"I'm lucky to be playing," said Barr, who had an up-and-down round of six birdies and three bogeys. "The guys in the fitness trailer have been working some kinks out in my lower back; I had a pulled muscle just below the left rib cage and left hip. I was only able to play nine holes each day of the practice rounds, and it's kind of tender and sore."
Barr, who finished tied for fourth at last year's Senior PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, said his back was still sore Thursday, which caused him to not be able to get through the ball as well as he normally would.
"I hit a lot of shots to the right, just not getting through the ball quick enough with the hips spinning out," he said. "But I scrambled a bit and when I had a few makeable putts, I was able to get those down.
"Right now, I'm just kind of going day by day and just hoping that I can stay together. Hopefully, things will be a little bit looser tomorrow and we'll just go and see what happens."
Defending Champion Hale Irwin on Thursday broke one of several Senior PGA Championship records established by the legendary Sam Snead. Irwin's 3-under-par 69 gave him 18 rounds in the 60s in the Championship, one more than Snead, a six-time winner. Irwin, trying to claim his fifth Senior PGA title, accomplished his mark in 10 appearances, while Snead competed in 13. It was also Irwin's 24th round under par in the Championship.
J.C. Snead teed it up in his 1,000th event (PGA TOUR/Champions Tour combined) Thursday, becoming just the seventh player to reach that milestone. Snead joined Miller Barber (1,292), Dave Eichelberger (1,143), Charles Coody (1,054), Gay Brewer (1,023), Arnold Palmer (1,014) and Gene Littler (1,013) in the 1,000-event club. Dale Douglass made his 998th TOUR appearance (PGA TOUR/Champions Tour combined) here and is scheduled to play in his 1,000th event in two weeks at the Bayer Advantage Classic in Kansas City.
Dana Quigley appeared in his 273rd consecutive start for which he has been eligible and played in his 259th straight event on the Champions Tour. Quigley's streak began at the 1997 BankBoston Classic the week before he won his first Champions Tour event at the Northville Long Island Classic.
Japan's Tommy Nakajima, a winner of 47 events on the Japan PGA Tour, made his Champions Tour debut Thursday and posted a 73. Nakajima last played a PGA Tour event in 2002 and last made the cut on the PGA Tour at the 1996 PGA Championship, where he tied for 52nd. Nakajima became eligible for the Champions Tour when he turned 50 on Oct. 20, 2004.
Bob Gilder hit all 14 fairways and needed just 24 putts in posting his 2-under 70 Thursday at Laurel Valley Golf Club.
Bob Mann, a PGA Professional from Columbus, Ohio, was assessed a one-stroke penalty for slow play Thursday. Mann was given two warnings before he was assessed a one-stroke penalty on the 15th hole.