Oct 02, 2008 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Spectators attending the inaugural PGA Tour Turning Stone Resort Championship one year ago basked in warm sunshine and temperatures that pushed past 80 degrees. And the golfers loved the calm conditions that produced low scores until the wind kicked up on Sunday.
None of that was present when the tournament’s second edition kicked off Thursday at Atunyote Golf Club in Verona.
It started with rain, cold wind and temperatures in the 40s. At some point, the thermometer inched past 50, but barely, though the sun did shine in the afternoon.
Players broke out sweaters, rain jackets and even ski hats to deal with the Central New York October chill. A piece of the British Open had arrived in the States.
None of this bothered Jeff Overton, though. He took advantage of the improved conditions late in the day to string together some birdies and shot a five-under-par 67 to seize the lead by one shot over Michael Allen and Steve Allan.
Teeing off at the 10th hole, Overton had a bogey on 13, but never made a mistake again. He birdied 15, 17 and 18, then went to the front nine and, in the sunshine, added birdies on holes 1, 5 and 8 to go in front.
Allan, an Australian professional, might have enjoyed the day’s best round. He played in the worst of the morning conditions and made just one bogey against five birdies, using his length to birdie three of the four par-5 holes.
As for Allen, a PGA Tour journeyman who contended at Atunyote in 2007, his four-under-par round included an eagle on the par-5 5th hole, which played easiest all day. He used birdies at 10, 11, 16 and 18 to zoom up the board.
Three players — Tag Ridings, Carlos Franco and Jason Day — each shot 69, three under par. Day was paired with Allen and produced the most memorable shot of the afternoon at the par-four 14th, as his approach shot zoomed into the hole on the fly for an eagle 2. Franco had his own eagle at the 5th hole, while Ridings produced five birdies in his opening-round effort.
Seven players — Briny Baird, Bo Van Pelt, Kent Jones, Mark Hensby, Troy Matteson, Paul Claxton and Scott Sterling — stood at 70, two under par.
In all, just 27 of the 132 players in the field broke par, a far cry from the birdie fest in ’07 where Steve Flesch won with 18 under par — and that included some late, meaningless bogeys.
Flesch, a native of Kentucky, did not do as well in this opening round, posting a two-over-par 74. That left him one shot better than the tournament’s biggest name, former PGA champion Davis Love III, who struggled in the morning chill to a 75.
Chris DiMarco, a three-time major runner-up had a 76, while two-time U.S. Open champion Lee Janzen, who had to go through Monday qualifying at Kaluhyat Golf Club just to get into the field, fared better with a 71.
All the local favorites fell quickly out of contention. Joey Sindelar (Horseheads), now playing on the Champions Tour, had a 77, while Tom Scherrer (Skaneateles) blew up to an 82 and East Syracuse qualifier Jeff Reader finished with an 85.
Play begins again Friday morning at 7:15 a.m., and when the day is done, the field will be cut down for Saturday and Sunday’s play, where the weather is supposed to improve. No doubt, both players and fans will be relieved.