Despite tee times being delayed until 12:30 p.m., all the golfers got their first rounds in at the Constellation Senior Players in Fox Chapel on Thursday.Leading the way at 5 under par is John Huston. Huston struggled at Fox Chapel Golf Club in last year’s Senior Players, finishing in a tie for 71st place.
“I drove it terrible last year,” Huston said. “I think the course played totally different last year. If I recall, it played really hard and fast. Yeah, I remember I didn’t play very well.”
In the first round, he registered five birdies and an eagle that led to shooting a 65. Perhaps the delay helped out the golfers?
“I think we were fortunate being a little bit later,” Huston said. “The guys that, I’m sure they came out here, the first groups came out for their tee time and then had to stay here for five or six hours. I think our tee time was pretty much a blessing because we just stayed around and were able to stay at the hotel until it was time to come out.”
The 65 was a surprise since Huston has played in one tournament since March due to back problems.
“I’ve had a really bad back,” Huston said. “Actually, I was okay until the Atlanta tournament and I went out to warm up for the Atlanta tournament and that was the first time my back really went out on me. I’ve battled with it.”
“I’ve had normal back stuff for probably 20 years but never anything really serious. This is probably the worst it’s been where it was. Usually in the past if I had back problems, three or four days I’m back ready to go, but this one’s been a little bit more difficult.”
Huston has plenty of competition, including four golfers who are just a stroke back. One of those four is Fred Funk, who fared well here last year and was one of the first to praise the course’s condition. Funk also is going through back pain and he has had trouble shaking it.
“I’ve been getting so much treatment on it the last few weeks that I feel like a piece of meat that’s been tenderized,” Funk said. “I’ve been hammered on and [electronic stimulation] and ice – not even ice, but I sort of iced it last night because some guys said don’t ice it and I don’t know who to believe. I’m on [medication] and a muscle relaxer right now trying to get this knot to release and they’re not really having an effect.”
“I should have withdrawn last week and I was close to withdrawing yesterday in the middle of the pro-am, it was hurting so bad. I went in and had some “stim” and ice on the truck last night and iced it last night really good and froze it last night and this morning it was better. But as I got into the round, it got really sore again.”
Duffy Waldorf also is one of the golfers at four under. Before the tournament, many of the players were talking about how much tougher the rough would be this year, but the Thursday rain neutralized it.
“I think the dampness definitely changes how you play the course because the ball’s really sticking,” Waldorf said. “When it hits the green, it stops, and if you come in with a lot of spin, there’s quite a few short holes out here and controlling the spin can be very difficult. I was fortunate that I was in the fairway it seemed like a lot on the long holes and then in the rough on the shorter holes, which didn’t really hurt me.”
Fred Couples is the last one a stroke back. Couples has a recent history of doing well at this tournament as he won the event two years ago and was a runner-up last year.
Among others, defending champion Joe Daley is 1 over after one round of play, while Rocco Mediate is even par and Colin Montgomerie is 1 under in his first Champions Tour round. This year’s two major champions Kohki Idoki and David Frost are 5 over par and 2 under, respectively.
Start times for Round 2 are again delayed with the first groups teeing up on the first and 10th holes at 8:50 a.m. Friday. Fans should be reminded that they are allowed to bring a rain jacket or windbreaker to the grounds.