DAYTON — Cool fall temperatures and a gusty northeast wind played havoc with scoring in the first round of the stage one Web.com qualifying tournament at Dayton Valley Golf Club. A combination of the wind blowing from the opposite direction from normal, fast and hard greens and difficult pin placements lead to the high scores.
Dusty Fielding turned in the best performance of the day with a 3-under 69. Fielding from Washington, Utah, was the low qualifier in last year’s PGA Tour qualifying at Dayton.
“It played tough today, I felt like I shot 7-under,” said Fielding who made it to the finals of PGA Tour qualifying last year and played on the Web.com Tour. “There weren’t many easy pin placements out there and the opposite wind direction made the three closing holes on each side even more difficult than normal.”
“You had to take advantage of the par 5s,” Fielding said. “I went for the green in two on 18 just so I didn’t have to hit a really tricky third shot to that very difficult pin placement.”
Veteran Tom Kalinowski and Chris Gilman of Las Vegas are one shot back at 70. Kalinowski, of Scottsdale, Ariz., was low qualifier in the 1999 PGA qualifier at Dayton.
Former Nevada Wolf Pack golfer Scott Smith shot a 3-over 75 and is tied for 25th place.
“The wind, speed of the greens and difficult pin placements combined to make it tough out there,” said Smith, a Fallon resident. “I’m not that disappointed with the round because today you just had to play to survive, you couldn’t go at the pins and had to play strategic shots.”
Just 12 golfers in the 75-player field carded under par rounds of 71 or lower in the first round and only 15 were at even par or better. The field had an overall opening round scoring average of 75.08 — nearly two and one-half strokes higher than last year’s average of 72.54.
Tony Finau of Lehi, Utah, was one of nine players tied for third at 1-under. A former Golf Channel “Big Break” competitor, Finau played in the PGA Tour qualifier at Dayton last year.
“The opposite wind direction really made it tougher along with the hard greens,” he said. “Last year with 18 playing down wind I hit a hybrid and 7-iron to reach the green in two. This year into the wind I hit driver, 5-iron, 9-iron.”
Clayton Rask, who is one 22 players within five strokes of the lead after a 2-over 74, didn’t give as much credence to difficult conditions as some of the other players.
“It was a little tough but I made tougher than it should have been,” said Rask from Elk River, Minn. “I had one brain-dead miscalculation that cost me a double bogey on nine when I went dyslexic on the yardage number, but I hit the ball well all day even though my score didn’t show it.”
The 32 low scores and ties after Friday’s final round of the 72-hole tournament will advance to Second Stage Web.com Tour Qualifying. Players advancing to the second stage will play to make the Web.com Qualifying School Final where they will vie for a spot on the 2014 Web.com Tour.