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Greg Norman
Greg Norman's facial expression told the tale of his first-round 73. (Martin/Getty Images)

Thursday Notebook: Co-leaders match course record

Scott Hoch and Tom Purtzer join the record book. Plus, Dave Stockton succeeds yet again in his "summer home," Greg Norman struggles, John Jacobs is Mr. Consistency, and more.

By Craig Dolch, Dave Senko and The PGA of America Media Staff

BEACHWOOD, Ohio -- Scott Hoch and Tom Purtzer share the first-round lead at the 2009 Senior PGA Championship at 4-under-par 66. Bernhard Langer is alone in third place at 2-under-par 68. Hoch and Purtzer matched the competitive course record on the 6,895-yard Canterbury Golf Club course near Cleveland. Bobby Clampett set the mark at a U.S. Open qualifier in 1979 and Joe Carr and Bob Charles later matched it at the 1996 U.S. Senior Open.

NORMAN STRUGGLES: You knew it wasn't a good day when Greg Norman was asked to go over his birdies following his first round, and his response was: "You mean my birdie?"

Norman had just one birdie that was offset by four bogeys that left him tied for 54th place after a 3-over 73. Norman, who tied for sixth in last year's Senior PGA Championship, had a simple explanation.

"I just didn't play well," he said. "I didn't hit enough fairways, I didn't hit enough greens and I putted poorly. That's how you usually shoot over par."

Norman hit 5 of 14 fairways, 11 of 18 greens and needed 32 putts.

STOCKTON SUCCEEDS: Dave Stockton, 67, turned in a nice effort in his return to the site of his 1996 U.S. Senior Open title. Stockton fashioned an even-par 70 and actually flirted with shooting his age before finishing his round with successive bogeys.

Playing in northeast Ohio brings out the best in Stockton. In addition to his 1996 U.S. Senior Open crown, Stockton also won the 1968 Cleveland Open Invitational at nearby Lakewood Country Club and twice teamed up with Al Geiberger to win the CBS Golf Classic at Firestone Country Club in Akron in 1969 and 1969.

Stockton even called suburban Cleveland his "summer home" in the late '60s and early '70s. Back then, before he had enough money to fly back to his native California during a break from the PGA Tour, he and his wife, Cathy, would often stay with a local friend and play Chagrin Valley Country Club in Chagrin Falls, Ohio.
 
ALLEN DEBUTS: Michael Allen made his Champions Tour debut on Thursday and opened with a 4-over-par 74. The 50-year-old Allen was expected to compete on the Champions Tour in 2009 but is currently an exempt player on the PGA Tour after finishing in the top 125 in 2008.

GOOD JOB, JACOBS: A tip of the cap to 64-year-old John Jacobs for his opening-round effort. The winner of the 2003 Senior PGA Championship, Jacobs was the lone player to post a bogey-free round, recording pars on all 18 holes. Jacobs also had the day's longest recorded drive of 335 yards.

Jacobs was the model of consistency in the opening round as he parred every hole, hit 12 of 14 fairways and hit 16 of 18 greens in regulation. And he was 1-for-1 in sand saves.
 
TRACKING THE CHAMPS: Jacobs and three other past Senior PGA Champions -- Hale Irwin, Dave Stockton and Denis Watson -- shot 70 in the first round. Two-time and defending champion Jay Haas had 71, while Tom Watson, Allen Doyle and Fuzzy Zoeller each shot 72. Tom Wargo and Mike Reid carded 74s.
 
THE BOYS FROM 1979: Mark O'Meara, the winner of the 1979 U.S. Amateur at Canterbury, and John Cook, who lost to O'Meara in that final match, never got much going in the first round. O'Meara, starting his round on No. 10, made double bogey on 15 and triple bogey on 16. He shot 76 for the round. Meanwhile, Cook bogeyed three straight holes (4, 5 and 6) and shot 73.
 
NO CADDIE CONTROVERSY: Hoch teamed up with caddie Damon Green to win a pair of PGA Tour titles before Green left to become Zach Johnson's bag man three years ago. Since, Hoch and Green have reunited several times, winning a Champions Tour event together last year.

Even though Johnson isn't playing in this week's HP Byron Nelson Championship on the PGA Tour after winning last week's Valero Texas Open, Hoch said he didn't consider hiring Green this week.

"Damon has helped me a lot; he kind of turned my game around last year," Hoch said. "But he's back on his tour and I don't think he needs to play or work too many extra weeks. I think he's doing all right."

Green has been Johnson's caddie for all five of his PGA Tour wins, including last year's Masters. Hoch's caddie this week is Steve Kay.

STAT CORNER: First-round co-leader Purtzer had the fewest putts on Thursday, 25. He came into the event ranked 76th in that category on the Champions Tour at 31.06.

Bruce Fleisher and Fred Funk each his 13 of 14 fairways to lead in that category, while Jacobs led with 16 of 18 greens in regulation. Robert Gibbons led all players in driving distance at 316.5.

Hole No. 12 ranked as the most difficult with an average score of 4.626 (+.626). The hole produced 24 double bogeys, along with only eight birdies and three "others" (triple bogey or worse). Holes Nos. 17 and 18 each produced just five birdies on Thursday, and ranked third and second, respectively, in difficulty. 

Conversely, the 549-yard, par-5 15th hole yielded 39 birdies and just 27 bogeys and three double bogeys. It ranked as the easiest hole on the course, with a scoring average of 4.961.

Statistically, the back nine played considerably harder than the front nine in the opening round. With par being 36 on the back, the field averaged 38.432 strokes on that side. On the par-34 front nine, the field played to a stroke average of 35.781.

There were only 10 players under par in the first round and 22 players at par or better. And there were no eagles or holes-in-one recorded in the opening round.

 

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