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Notebook: Tidbits from Day 1 at Oak Hill
Last year at the Ocean Course on Kiawah Island, S.C., Eduardo Romero led after the first round with a 4-under 68 and a total of seven players finished under par on Thursday. Haas now has carded three consecutive 69s on the East Course at Oak Hill. At the 2003 PGA Championship, he shot 69-69 on the weekend and finished tied for fifth.
Hale Irwin was the last first-round leader/co-leader to win this championship, doing so in 2004 at Valhalla.
PGA Club Professoinal Bill Britton, a full-time player on the PGA Tour from 1982-1996 and the winner of the 1989 Centel Classic, had the only eagle of the day. Britton holed a 9-iron second shot from 120 yards at the par-4, 439-yard, 16th hole at Oak Hill. Britton, now a teaching professional in Tinton Falls, N.J., eventually posted an even-par 70, the best round in the afternoon and the lowest score among the 37 PGA Club Professionals in the field for the 69th Senior PGA Championship.
Thus far on the 2008 Champions Tour, first-round leaders/co-leaders have won four of the previous 12 official events played. Andy Bean and Mike Goodes were tied for the first-round lead last week at the Regions Charity Classic in Birmingham, Ala., and Bean eventually went on to win the event.
World Golf Hall of Famer Greg Norman made his first-ever start in the Senior PGA Championship Thursday and carded a 2-over-par 72. Thursday marked Norman's first appearance in a Champions Tour event since the 2005 U.S. Senior Open in Dayton, Ohio, where he finished fourth. His only other event on the circuit since turning 50 came at the 2005 Senior British Open the week prior to the U.S. Senior Open. Norman finished third at Royal Aberdeen, one stroke out of a playoff with Tom Watson, the eventual winner, and Des Smyth. Norman tied for 33rd in the 1989 U.S. Open at Oak Hill and missed the cut here in the 2003 PGA Championship.
With temperatures in the upper 40s in the morning and intermittent light rain giving way to partly cloudy skies in the afternoon with gusting winds up to 25 mph, the stroke average for the field Thursday was 76.873 (+6.876), the highest in relation to par for this event since 1987 (79.3, +7.3).
Earlier this year on the Champions Tour, the final round of the Turtle Bay Championship produced no rounds in the 60s and just four players broke par on the windy North Shore of Oahu in Hawaii.
Defending champion Denis Watson carded a 2-over 72 and is in a group of nine professionals tied for 13th.
The 156-player field averaged 38.64 on the front nine and 38.23 on the back nine. Jay Haas (33) had the best score on the front and local favorite Jeff Sluman (32) had the best back-nine score.
The par-4, 460-yard 17th hole ranked as the most difficult for Round 1 (4.581) of this year's Senior PGA Championship. The par-3, 214-yard third hole (3.487) was ranked as the third most difficult and yielded just five birdies (Bill Britton, Mike Goodes, Bobby Wadkins, Charles Coody, John Calabria).
Walter Hall (tied for 22nd) had just 22 putts Thursday in posting his 3-over 73. ... Tim Simpson hit 15 of 18 greens in regulation (83%). ... George Forster and Dana Quigley both hit 12 of 14 fairways off the tee (86%).