Notebook: Winds make first-round scoring very tough
With northeast winds whistling all day, the opening stroke average was the highest all year. Plus, the leaderboard has a foreign accent, both Brad Bryant and Hubert Green were straight shooters, Tom Kite's iron play was great, and more.
By Phil Stambaugh, PGA TOUR Staff
KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. -- Eduardo Romero holds the first-round lead in the Senior PGA Championship after shooting a 4-under 68 on the Ocean Course Thursday. Earlier this year at the Toshiba Classic, Romero was one of six players tied for the opening-round lead before eventually finishing T9.
Romero is bidding to win consecutive majors on the Champions Tour. In late August last year, he won the JELD-WEN Tradition near Portland, Ore., defeating Lonnie Nielsen in a playoff.
BEST START EVER: Eduardo Romero's 68 Thursday was his first-ever score in the 60s out of five career rounds in the Senior PGA Championship. The 52-year-old's previous-best score in this event was a 1-under 71 on both Friday and Saturday last year at Oak Tree Golf Club.
FROM FIRST TO FIRST: Thus far on the 2007 Champions Tour, four first-round leaders/co-leaders have gone on to win out of the 11 official events played. Keith Fergus was the last first-round leader/co-leader to win (Ginn Championship at Hammock Beach) on the Champions Tour.
FOREIGN AFFAIR: Players from five different countries are among the top seven on the first-round leaderboard: Argentina (Eduardo Romero), Japan (Joe Ozaki), USA (Chip Beck, Brad Bryant), South Africa (Nick Price) and Zimbabwe (Denis Watson).
BLOWN AWAY: With northeast winds steadily blowing at 25 mph and gusting at times up to 30 mph, the stroke average of the field Thursday (77.265) was the highest for a round on the Champions Tour this year and the highest for an opening round at the Senior PGA Championship since 1992 (78.05) at PGA National.
Larry Ziegler and Gary Player were tied with 69s on that day and just seven players shot under par, the same number as Thursday. On Thursday at last year's Senior PGA Championship at Oak Tree, the scoring average of the field was 74.54 with 19 players under par after Round 1.
SCORES SOAR: The 156-player field averaged 38.40 on the front nine and 38.86 on the back nine. Joe Ozaki (33) of Japan had the best score on the front and both Japan’s Massy Kuramoto (33) and Thailand's Boonchu Ruangkit (33) had the best back-nine score.
AFTERNOON DELIGHT: Massy Kuramoto and last week's winner, Brad Bryant (Regions Charity Classic), both shot 71, the only rounds under par in the afternoon wave. Bryant now has started his last seven Champions Tour events with a sub-par round and has been under par in 10 of 11 first rounds this year.
VIVA ROCCA: Italy's Costantino Rocca, a four-time winner on the European Tour, made his first appearance in a Champions Tour event and debuted with a 2-over 74. Rocca, the only Italian to have played in The Ryder Cup (1997), finished T24 at the Sharp Italian Seniors Open in Venice last week in his European Seniors Tour debut.
KING OF THE GREENS: Denis Watson had just 23 putts in posting his 1-under 71. Watson currently ranks fourth on the Champions Tour in Putts Per Round (28.43). Watson started his round with seven consecutive one-putts and finished with five straight one-putts. He also one-putted No. 9 for a birdie.
STRAIGHT SHOOTERS: Both Brad Bryant and Hubert Green hit 13 of 14 fairways off the tee today. Tom Kite led the field in Greens In Regulation, hitting 15 of 18. Defending champion Jay Haas carded an even-par 72 and is in a group of 13 professionals at T8.
ONE WAY OR THE OTHER: The par-5 seventh and par-5 16th holes were used to measure Driving Distance averages. To illustrate how strong the winds were, the field's average off the tee on No. 7 was 295.4 but when they turned in the other direction, the players averaged 225.5 on their tee shots at No. 16.
COSTON COMES THROUGH: Jeff Coston, the PGA Teaching Professional at Semiahmoo Resort in Blaine, Wash., posted the lowest score among the 38 club professionals in the field for the 68th Senior PGA Championship, an even-par 72. Coston, playing in his first Senior PGA Championship, is a nine-time Pacific Northwest Player of the Year and won the 2006 Senior Professional National Championship. He made 90 starts on the Nationwide Tour between 1991-1994 and also played on the PGA TOUR in 1985, 1988-89 (T7-1988 Anheuser-Busch Golf Classic).
RARE BIRDS: The Ocean Course's par-3 17th hole ranked as the most difficult for Round 1 of this year's Senior PGA Championship, yielding just five birdies (Chip Beck, Jim Ahern, Mike Reid, Mark Hayes, Raymond Floyd) and playing to a stroke average of 3.716.
IN ITS PLACE: Tony Jacklin was assessed a two-stroke penalty as the result of incorrectly replacing his ball on the No. 14 green. The ball had moved, apparently by the strong wind, and Jacklin incorrectly replaced the ball before continuing to finish the hole.
On the 18th hole, the same situation occurred. At that point, Jacklin asked to speak to a Rules Official, who informed him what proper procedure he must do to replace the ball. Jacklin realized he had made a mistake on No. 14. So, he was assessed the two-stroke penalty under Rule 20-7C.
TOUGH START: World Golf Hall of Famer Gary Player made his 22nd consecutive appearance in the Senior PGA Championship, carding a 10-over 82. Player, the winner of the 1986, 1988 and 1990 Senior PGA Championship, tied Charles Sifford and George Smith. The late Fred Haas, Jr., owns the all-time mark with 30 appearances in this event.
OUTTA HERE: Mark McNulty withdrew before the start of his round with an injury. He was replaced in the field by Jim Ahern, who opened with a 1-over 73. John Mahaffey retired after six holes. He was 6 over par at the time of the withdrawal.