TURTLE BAY CHAMPIONSHIP
Roberts sticking around PGA Tour a bit longer
If Loren Roberts had his way, he just might leave the PGA Tour in his rearview mirror and spend the next decade playing strictly with guys his own age.
But after U.S. Ryder Cup team captain Tom Lehman asked him to be an assistant for this year's event in Ireland, Roberts thought it best to stick around and help the Americans any way he could. He will play in six to eight events on the PGA Tour and perhaps more given the right set of circumstances.
"I need to stay connected with what's going on out there (on the PGA Tour)," Roberts said. "I need to be around the guys and stay connected, you know, socially, and let the guys know that I'm there and willing to do anything anybody needs for the team."
Should he do well here at this week's Turtle Bay Championship and become the first person since Larry Nelson in 2001 to win the first two events (MasterCard and Royal Caribbean) on the Champions Tour, he might play in Tucson and in Los Angeles at the Nissan Open on the PGA Tour. But he's not ready to put the golf cart before the horse, so to speak.
"I've got to see how I do here," Roberts said. "You know, we're a third of the way through with a long way to go and this is the first full-field event, I mean, there are 78 guys here. I probably won't decide until after the tournament is over what I'm going to do.
"I feel very fortunate to be in position where I can play both tours right now. Obviously, this is going to be my home, the Champions Tour is where I'm going to play for the next 10 years. I still think I need a bit of a connection on the regular tour."
Would you stay around on the PGA Tour if you could keep your card?
"If I got down to the end of the year and I was close, I might add a tournament or two just to try to do it," Roberts said.
"I'll be the first to admit that I've had a nice career. The only thing I feel badly about is the U.S. Open in 1994, when I had a chance, and I had a chance at the Masters in 2000, an outside shot. Other than that, I've had a nice career. I've always been a pretty consistent player. I didn't miss a lot of cuts on the regular tour. I've always pretty much stayed in the game."
Unusual round: Bruce Summerhays played his opening round a bit strangely yesterday for someone who's only one shot off the lead. His 5-under 67 included seven birdies, but none of them were on the par 5s.
In fact, Summerhays birdied three of the four par 3s, something that usually leads to a 63 or 64. Not that he's complaining. The 62-year-old veteran of the Champions Tour is happy to be near the top of the leaderboard.
"I also made a 40-footer at (the par-4) No. 2," Summerhays said. "That's a lot of birdies in this wind, but most of them were from 15 feet. I did have that snake at the second where it broke twice, but pretty much, I had the 15-footers working yesterday."
Inside the numbers: Jim Thorpe opened his round with a 1-over 37 on the back, but kept an eye on what Roberts was doing and was able to close with a 4-under 32, the best of the day.
"Watching what Loren did all day helped me, especially on the greens," Thorpe said. "This guy can really putt and he was striking the ball better than anyone. You kind of feed off that during the round."
Don Pooley had a different approach. He opened with a 5-under 31 on the front, but closed with a rough 1-over 37 on the back. It was still good enough for third, two strokes off the pace. His 31 was the best nine on the front for the day.
The scoring average was 73.218, a good deal worse than last year's 71.885. In 2003, the field averaged a hefty 74.704. There were only seven rounds in the 60s yesterday compared to 21 last year in calmer conditions. Overall, 15 players were under par yesterday compared to 45 last year.
The hardest hole yesterday was the par-4 sixth with a scoring average of 4.436. Tour rookie of the year Jay Haas had the only birdie at the 433-yard hole. There were 45 pars, 29 bogeys and three double bogeys. The easiest hole was the par-5 18th with a scoring average of 4.756. There were four eagles, 21 birdies, 43 pars and 10 bogeys.