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AT&T Champions Classic: Sindelar shoots 64, takes first round lead

Two-time champion Purtzer one shot back

Posted: March 18, 2009 6:49 p.m.
Updated: March 13, 2009 6:00 p.m.
Joey Sindelar shot an 8-under-par 64 to take the opening round lead in the AT&T Champions Classic at sun splashed Valencia Country Club. One shot back is Tom Purtzer, winner of the 2003 and 2007 AT&T Champions Classic here.

David Edwards and Jay Haas are in third place following 5-under-par 67s. Edwards' score included a double-bogey on the par-4 8th hole. Four players are tied for fifth place at 4-under-par 68, including Bruce Lietzke, Bernhard Langer, Ben Crenshaw and John Cook.

Starting on the 10th tee, Sindelar birdied the first two holes and added birdies on 14, 15 and 18 to get out of the gate with a 31. Sindelar, who shot 63 in the final round of last week's Toshiba Classic in Newport Beach, Calif., held steady at 5-under through 16 holes played and then finished his round with a birdie on the par-4 8th hole and an eagle on the par-5 9th hole.

"Of course it was fun," Sindelar said with a wide grin. "I'm not playing much differently than I've been, but some putts are going in. It's been the same sort of ball striking as the last couple of years, but it's been fun watching some putts drop."

Sindelar's 64 matched the Valencia Country Club tournament record held by five other players.

Saturday's play in the $1.6 million AT&T Champions Classic starts at 10:10 a.m. Tickets for the Champions Tour event are on sale for $15 at the event entry to Valencia Country Club off of Tourney Road.

Today's Notebook:

Joey Sindelar's Best Career Starts On The Champions Tour:

Year Event                                     1st-Round Score  Finish Position
2009 AT&T Champions Classic                 64 (-8)           -----
2008 Dick's Sporting Goods Open             66 (-6)           4th
2008 Administaff Small Business Classic     66 (-6)           T13th
2008 Principal Charity Classic                  67 (-4)           4th

Joey Sindelar's Starting Rounds In 2009:

Event                        1st-Round Score    Finish Position
Allianz Championship         71                      (-1) T21
The ACE Group Classic      71                      (-1) T7
Toshiba Classic                68                      (-3) T2
AT&T Champions Classic    64                      (-8) ----

Joey Sindelar's 8-under-par 64 matches the lowest first-round score in tournament history at Valencia CC. Two years ago, Hale Irwin posted 64 in the opening round. Overall, Sindelar's round was the sixth 64 shot at Valencia CC - Larry Nelson (2001/Rd. 2), Walter Morgan (2001/Rd. 3), Joe Inman (2004/Rd. 3), Tom Kite (2006/Rd. 2), Hale Irwin (2007/Rd. 1).

Joey Sindelar's one-stroke lead after the opening round is a first for him on the Champions Tour. On the PGA TOUR, Sindelar was either a co-leader or the sole leader eight times in his career, most recently at the 2004 Bell Canadian Open. Here's a complete list of his PGA TOUR events/finishes when leading/co-leading after Round 1:

Year Event                       Score   Eventual Finish Position
2004 Bell Canadian Open      66        (-5) T26
1998 Memorial Tournament   66        (-6) T44
1993 U.S. Open                  66        (-4) CUT
1987 B.C. Open                  65        (-6) 1st
1987 Provident Classic         62        (-8) T7
1987 Canadian Open            68        (-4) T7
1985 Southern Open            63        (-7) 9th
1985 B.C. Open                   66        (-5) 1st

Only four of 19 first-round leaders have gone on to win this event and it's only happened once at Valencia CC. In 2004, Gil Morgan was part of a five-way tie for the Friday lead and eventually defeated Larry Nelson by two strokes for his third win at this event. Only two players have ever won this event after starting with a round above par (2002/Tom Kite, 2008/Denis Watson).

After posting an 8-under 63 in the final round at Newport Beach Country Club last Sunday, Joey Sindelar carded 8-under 64 today. He's now gone bogey-free in his last 38 holes and his rounds of 63-64-127 are a career best for back-to-back rounds on the Champions Tour. Last year at the Dick's Sporting Goods Open, Sindelar shot 66-65-131 for the first two days at En-joie Golf Club.

Tom Purtzer's 7-under 65 today was his lowest round ever at Valencia Country Club. A two time winner at Valencia (2003/2007), Purtzer now has shot in the 60s in 11 of 21 rounds on this course and is a cumulative 41-under on the layout. Here's a look at his career record in this event:

Year 1st 2nd 3rd Total Finish Money
2002 70 74   69  213  T3     $95,700
2003 67 68        135  1st     $225,000
2004 68 71   68  207  6th    $60,000
2005 72 73   73  218  T14   $25,601
2006 69 70   75  214  T7     $48,800
2007 69 69   68  206  1st    $240,000
2008 67 73   73  213  10th  $41,600
2009 65

David Edwards, the last man into the field this week after R.W. Eaks withdrew due to a back injury, made the most of his opportunity. Edwards carded a 5-under 67 in the opening round, his best start on the Champions Tour since posting a 67 in Round 1 of the 2007 SAS Championship.

Bernhard Langer, the current Charles Schwab Cup leader, shot 68 today. He's now opened seven consecutive tournaments on the Champions Tour with a sub-par round, dating back to last year's Constellation Energy Senior Players Championship.

There were 17 rounds in the 60s today compared to just five sub-70 scores on Friday at Valencia CC last year. The field scoring average today was 72.481 vs. 73.316 on Friday last year. The most difficult hole today was the par-3 No. 7 (3.418) while No. 9 was the easiest (4.354). Overall, there were 11 eagles made today. Bernhard Langer had the only eagle on a par-4 (17th).

Joey Sindelar, Tom Purtzer, Jay Haas and Ben Crenshaw all had bogey-free rounds today. J.C. Snead is the only player in event history to not make a bogey in this event, doing so in 1994 at Rancho Park. Snead still finished T10 in the event.

Ben Crenshaw, Scott Hoch and Don Pooley all hit 13 of 14 fairways off the tee today...Tom Purtzer led in Greens In Regulation, hitting 16 of 18...Mike McCullough only had 23 putts, including just 11 total putts on the front nine...Tom Purtzer had the longest measured drive of the day, 335 yards at the par-4 11th hole.



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