Recap Of The Round: One week shy of his 58th birthday, Chip Beck took advantage of drier conditions at La Tempete Golf Club to post a 7-under-par 65, good enough for a one-stroke lead over PGA TOUR veteran Duffy Waldorf and club professional Craig Thomas, an open qualifier into this week’s Quebec Championship. Beck’s 254-yard, 3-wood, second shot to within a foot of the hole on the par-5 9th hole, his last of the day, allowed him to tap in for eagle and leapfrog both Waldorf and Thomas into the first-round lead. Earlier in the round, Beck had hit the same 3-wood, second shot to within 10 feet of the hole at the par-5 18th but settled for a two-putt birdie. “Thank goodness the course dried out today and the extra roll allowed me to reach both of those par-5s in two. I managed to hit two of the best 3-wood shots of my life,” Beck said afterward. He added five more birdies against a lone bogey to post his best round since shooting 65 on Saturday at the 2011 Greater Hickory Kia Classic. Steady rain early in the week had made the course soft and conditions have improved every day since Tuesday.
Chip Beck (65/-7)
Making his fifth career appearance in the Quebec Championship and best finish was a T10 in Montreal in 2010.
Making his eighth start on the 2014 Champions Tour and best finish thus far this year is a T22 at the Boeing Classic near Seattle two weeks ago.
Today marks the first time Beck has held sole possession of the first-round lead in a Champions Tour event. Beck was tied for the opening-round lead on three other occasions, most recently at the 2010 Cap Cana Championship in the Dominican Republic.
Beck’s previous-best round at the Quebec Championship was 67 twice at the 2011 event at Fontainebleau Golf Club near Montreal.
Beck is making his 148th career start on the Champions Tour this week and his best finishes both came during the 2006 season – T2 SAS Championship, 2nd – AT&T Championship. .
Won four times on the PGA TOUR and was the second player to shoot 59 on the PGA TOUR at the 1991 Las Vegas Invitational (second round).
Beck’s 65 today was four strokes better than the low score after Friday last year (Dick Mast, 69) and was the lowest first-round score in this tournament since John Cook and John Huston posted 63s at Fontainebleau Golf Club in 2011.
In the previous four years, John Cook is the only first-round leader to go on and win, doing so in 2011. Last year, Esteban Toledo, the eventual champion, was T16 after shooting one-over 73 on Friday.
Thus far in 2014, seven of the previous 19 events have been won by first-round leaders, but it hasn’t happened since Bernhard Langer led start to finish at the Senior Open Championship in Wales. Each of the last two events on the Champions Tour have been won by players coming from outside the top-20 on the first day – Scott Dunlap (T20)/Boeing Classic, Fred Couples (T39)/Shaw Charity Classic.
Defending champion Esteban Toledo opened with a 4-under 68 at La Tempete today. Toledo won his event last year in Montreal, defeating Kenny Perry in a playoff for his second victory of the 2013 season. Toledo is trying to become the first player since John Cook (2010 Charles Schwab Cup Championship) to defend on two different courses. Cook won the 2009 Schwab Cup Championship at Sonoma Golf Club and then defended at TPC Harding Park near San Francisco the following year.
Lee Janzen, the winner of both the 1993 and 1998 U.S. Open Championship as well as the 1995 PLAYERS, debuted on the Champions Tour today with a one-under 71. Grant Waite of New Zealand, the winner of the 1993 Kemper Open, also debuted on the Champions Tour today with a one-over 73.
Craig Thomas, a club professional from Metropolis Country Club in White Plains, NY, opened with six-under 66 today. Thomas went through both the pre-qualifier and qualifier to earn his way into the Quebec Championship field. His only other appearance on the Champions Tour was a T33 finish at the Senior PGA Championship at Harbor Shores in Michigan earlier this year. Thomas won the Met PGA Section Senior Open Championship earlier this summer. He was T4 in the 2009 PGA Professional National Championship. Thomas shares the course record at Bethpage Black Golf Course, shooting 64.
Today’s first-round stroke average was 70.738 compared to 74.675 on Friday last year at the Rouville course at Richelieu Valley near Montreal. There were 26 rounds in the 60s today compared to just one round in the 60s after play on Friday last year. The par-4 10th hole played as the most difficult today (4.288), yielding just four birdies. The par-5 18th hole played as the easiest (4.563), yielding four eagles and 32 birdies.
Jeff Sluman made his 98th straight appearance in a Champions Tour event today, the longest active streak, and carded a three-under 69. Sluman last missed an event at the 2010 Ensure Classic at Rock Barn in Hickory, North Carolina.
Yvan Beauchemin from Quebec City and Victoria’s Jim Rutledge both carded 1-under 71s, the best scores among the five Canadian players in the field this week.
Five players had bogey-free rounds today – Duffy Waldorf (66), Fred Funk (68), Wes Short, Jr. (69), Jeff Hart (69) and Bobby Clampett (70).
Weather: Partly cloudy with highs in the upper-70s and winds from the SSW at 10-20 mph.
1. Chip Beck 33-32—65 (-7)
T2. Craig Thomas 32-34—66 (-6)
T2. Duffy Waldorf 34-32– 66 (-6)
T4. Brad Faxon 35-32– 67 (-5)
T4. P.H. Horgan 35-32– 67 (-5)
T4. Loren Roberts 34-33—67 (-5)
Source: PGA TOUR