RENO -- Considering Montreux Golf and Country Club is the second highest course on the PGA Tour, it would make sense that those in contention after the first round of the Reno-Tahoe Open enjoy mountain courses.
John Rollins, in second place at 6-under, and Ben Crane, who's tied for third at 5-under with four other golfers, both love the Jack Nicklaus designed course, nestled in the shadow of Mount Rose at an elevation of over 5,000 feet.
"I enjoy playing mountain courses for some reason," said Rollins, who made seven birdies and one bogey during Thursday's round. "I guess I'm more comfortable with the ball going away from the mountain."
Crane, who's best finish this year was second at the Byron Nelson Classic, likes the challenge of the altitude and break of the greens caused by the mountain slopes, even though he didn't make the cut the The International in Castle Pines, Colo., the highest course on the tour.
"I really like that you have to take a percentage," said Crane, who was referring to the percentage of the distance needed to be considered with each club since the ball travels farther at altitude. "It adds a different element."
NEVADA COLLEGE GRADS HAVE VARYING RESULTS
A pair of UNLV graduates had very different opening rounds on Thursday. Chris Riley, who finished in third at last week's PGA Championship, fired a 1-under 71. Edward Fryatt, a teammate of Riley's at UNLV, is at 3-over. Fryatt shot a 7-under 65 in the first round of last year's RTO.
Michael Allen, a 1982 Nevada graduate, shot a 4-over 76. Allen, who majored in Horticulture, and Fryatt are in danger of missing the cut.
NOTABLES STRUGGLE AT RTO
In a short list of well-known golfers in the 132-man field at Montreux Golf and Country Club, only Lee Janzen was under par after the first round. Janzen, a two-time U.S. Open winner, fired a 2-under 70 on Thursday, five shots back of leader Charles Howell III.
Craig Stadler, the 1982 Masters winner, is also at 2-under.
Mark O'Meara, the 1998 Masters winner, was at 2-over and Corey Pavin, the '95 U.S. Open winner, was at even par following Thursday's round.
PAST RTO CHAMPS DOING WELL AT NEC CHAMPIONSHIPS
Last year's Reno-Tahoe Open winner, John Cook, and inaugural champion Notah Begay III were both at 1-under after the first round of the World Golf Championships-NEC Invitational on Thursday at Sahalee Country Club in Sammamish, Wash.
The top 50 golfers in the official world rankings qualified for the event.
Scott Verplank, the RTO winner in 2000, shot an even par 72, as did 1985 Nevada graduate Kirk Triplett. Reno resident Scott McCarron shot a 3-over 75.
TWO PLAYERS WITHDRAW
Cameron Beckman and Fred Wadsworth withdrew from the RTO on Thursday.