By Phil Stambaugh, PGA TOUR Media Staff
BENTON HARBOR, Mich. -- England’s Roger Chapman, playing just his fourth competitive round of the year, used three consecutive birdies (Nos. 7-9) on the front nine at Harbor Shores on Thursday to card a 3-under-par 68 and take a one-stroke lead over John Cook after the first round of the 73rd Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid. Chapman finished tied for 16th at the Mallorca Senior Open in Spain last week, his initial start on the 2012 European Senior Tour.
Chapman is making his fourth career appearance in the Senior PGA Championship this week. His best finish was 27th last year at Valhalla Golf Club, and made a hole-in-one in the third round of the 2009 Senior PGA Championship at Canterbury Golf Club. He played 11 events on the 2011 Champions Tour and finished 84th on the money list with $88,169.
He finished second twice on the European Senior Tour last year. He lost in a playoff to David Frost in the Mauritius Commercial Bank Open and was tied for second in the Travis Perkins Senior Masters. His lone victory on the European Tour came at the 2000 Brazil Rio De Janeiro 500 Years Open.
--John Cook, making his fifth career appearance in the Senior PGA Championship, has a best finish of a tie for 13th last year at Valhalla Golf Club.
Cook has finished in second place in three different major championships on the Champions Tour, losing each in a playoff -- 2008 Senior British Open (to Bruce Vaughan), 2009 Regions Tradition (to Mike Reid), 2011 Constellation Senior Players Championship (to Fred Couples).
He is the winner of eight Champions Tour events and owns 11 career victories on the PGA Tour. His best effort thus far on the 2012 Champions Tour is ia tie for second along with partner Joey Sindelar at the Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf, and a tie for third at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai.
--Roger Chapman’s 3-under-par 68 is the highest score in relation to par to lead the Senior PGA Championship after the first round since Jay Haas led the 2008 Senior PGA Championship after carding a 1-under-par 70 on Thursday.
--First-round leaders have won two of the first eight events on the Champions Tour this year. Corey Pavin led after Round 1 of the Allianz Championship and went on to claim the title in a playoff with Peter Senior. Fred Couples led after the first round of the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic and won by a stroke.
--Only two first-round leaders have gone on to win this championship since 2004. Jay Haas was the last first-round leader to win in 2008 at Oak Hill. Hale Irwin was the other first-round leader to win at Valhalla Golf Club in 2004. Last year at Valhalla, Japan’s Kiyoshi Murota led after the first round with a 6-under-par 66.
--There were just eight rounds under par on Thursday, with Jim Carter’s 70 being the only under-par score in the afternoon wave of players. Last year at Valhalla, there were 20 scores under par after the first round.
--66-year-old Hale Irwin, a four-time winner of the Senior PGA Championship, made his 17th consecutive appearance in the event Thursday and carded an even-par 71. This is Irwin’s 1,045th combined PGA Tour (659)/Champions Tour (386) event, moving him one ahead of his good friend Dale Douglass into solo sixth place on the all-time combined career starts list. Miller Barber is the all-time leader in this category with 1,292 total starts on the PGA Tour/Champions Tour.
--In his first start as a member of the Champions Tour, Andrew Magee carded a 2-over 73. Magee is renewing an old friendship this week. During the 1982 Western Amateur at nearby Point O’Woods Golf Club, Magee was hosted by the Bob Gerbel family, and now almost 30 years later, he is staying with a member of that family who lives near the Harbor Shores course.
“People have said how wonderful the golfers are out here on the Champions Tour and to a man, every single guy that I’ve known over all the years said, ‘Welcome to the Champions Tour,’ and its really a nice feeling,” said Magee
--John Ross had the only eagle of the day, holing out from the fairway at the par-4 12th hole.
--Mike McCullough and Pete Oakley both retired from the tournament after suffering injuries during their rounds. McCullough suffered a back injury while Oakley had a hamstring injury. Denis Watson, the 2007 Senior PGA Championship winner, was disqualified for not signing a scorecard. Andy North also withdrew with a sore knee after posting a 5-over-par 76.