RENO — One of the good things about the Modified Stableford scoring system is that you can make big jumps up the leaderboard if you get on a hot streak.
That’s exactly what Josh Teater did Thursday afternoon in the first round of the 15th annual Reno-Tahoe Open at Montreux Golf & Country Club.
Teater, who started his round on No. 10, finished eagle-birdie to compile 15 points and take a one-point lead over Gary Woodland and James Driscoll. Greg Chalmers is another point back at 13, while Stuart Appleby and Colt Knost are at 12 points. There is a five-way tie for seventh at 10 points between Trevor Immelman, Bud Cauley, Justin Bolli, David Mathis and Dean Wilson.
“Yeah, you know, obviously when you see the way the points shake out, you know, an eagle is worth five, which is two and a half birdies,” said Teater, who has finished seventh and 10th in his last two RTO appearances. “I had another look on No. 18 I left short, but I think I made one in the last round here last year and made a big jump. So the par‑5s are eagleable depending on the wind. You just try to get putts at ’em for sure.
“I mean, it was kind of a funny day out there, I guess. The wind was supposed to blow. At times it did and at times it didn’t. I was just trying to judge and give myself as many chances, and had two really good chances there coming in on the last two holes and took advantage.”
On the 636-yard par-5 8th, Teater blasted a 336-yard drive off the tee down the left side. He hit a hybrid to the front of the green and watched it funnel down to about 20 feet and he drained the putt. On the 429-yard par-4 9th, Teater hit 3-wood off the tee and then hit a 52-degree wedge to about 8 feet and made the putt.
“With all the adjustments we factored in, it was about 245 to the front (of 17),” Teater said. “That’s kind of a max hybrid for me, so I hit a really good shot there. I tend to hit that shot and it leaks to the right and catches that bunker, but I really hit a good one there and stayed left of the bunker. I just caught the right edge on that putt.
“I kind of pulled my 52‑degree wedge in there and kind of used the slope. Got down there to maybe eight feet and made that right in the middle.”
Teater said he didn’t even know he had the lead until the final hole of the round.
“I didn’t know where I was standing and even that I was in the lead until I guess James, he had a pretty good putt there for birdie on the last hole and didn’t make it,” Teater said. “I did see the board saying he was tied for second. I knew I was one point ahead, so figured I had to be up there.
“Last year I played pretty good here. I think Friday’s round wasn’t very good, but I played good Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday and finished seventh. So you can make a lot of moves in one round. So I got a good start, and hopefully I can keep it going.”
While Teater is a veteran of Montreux, Woodland is not, which makes his 14-point day all the more impressive.
Woodland birdied five of his first nine holes and finished with seven birdies and no bogeys en route to his 14-point effort.
“I played well today,” said Woodland. “I got off to a good start, and it was nice to get some (birdies) coming in there, because I had a lot of pars there in the middle of the round. It was nice to finish on a high note, and get some momentum going forward for the week.
“This is one of those weeks where you really have to think. It kind of slowed down a lot with the altitude. The wind was blowing today. I mean the golf course played tough. It helped that my caddie has been here before. There was a lot of thinking going on. The caddie and I did a lot of work today; a lot of communication that we definitely needed to be successful today. The golf course really suits my eye. I think length is a huge advantage here. With the altitude I was hitting middle irons into the par-5s today. I hit a 5-iron into 8 and a 6-iron into 18. A lot of the holes I can hit 2-iron off the tee. The fairways are wide enough for me and just suits me fine.”
Woodland started his birdie barrage on the par-5 2nd when he put his second shot in the primary rough, chipped to 2-feet and drained the putt for 2 points. He got to plus-4 two holes later when he dropped a wedge to 4 feet and made the putt. On No. 6, he put his approach shot from 189 to 3 feet and again made the putt. On the par-5 8th, his approach shot from 266 landed 22 feet away and he two-putted for the birdie. He concluded an impressive front nine with a 9-foot birdie putt.
After seven straight pars on the back, he concluded the round with birdie putts of 5 and 9-feet, respectively.
“Obviously I like to get ahead and go,” Woodland said. “Obviously I’m playing well. I feel comfortable out here. You are going to have to make birdies out here.”
Driscoll had eight birdies on the day and two bogeys on the day. One of those bogeys came on No. 18 when he lost a ball in the hazard. That was especially disappointing because that hole is reachable in two, which means a birdie or eagle possibility.
“Overall from top to bottom it was probably one of the better rounds I’ve had for the year for sure,” said Driscoll, who barely missed a birdie putt on No. 9, his final hole. “I drove it a little better than I have been, kept putting well, and my irons have been pretty good as of late.
“Even the bogeys I made I didn’t feel I hit bad shots. All in all, I think it was a really good day.”
Like Woodland, Chalmers started quickly with five straight birdies, and held the lead for most of the day. It was a solid round. He hit 14 of 18 greens in regulation and 13 of 14 fairways. The only miss came on the par-4 5th when he missed the fairway to the right and was forced to punch the ball into the middle of the fairway.
Chalmers made birdie putts of 8, 7, 10 and 1 feet, and he two-putted from 27 feet for a birdie on the par-5 13th. He missed a potential birdie opportunity on the par-5 8th.
“I’m very pleased,” Chalmers said. “I wouldn’t complain at all about any shots I left out there. I think there are times when you’re going to miss a 4-footer or two out here this week, particularly with weather like this.
“I drove the ball beautifully in the pro-am and that gave me confidence for today. When you hit a wedge to 5 feet on the first and then an 8-iron on 11 to 7 or 8 feet and make it, you start to think good things are going to happen. It’s a real confidence booster when you see putts dropping.”
Chalmers is in a fight to keep his card. He currently sits at 118, and the top 125 make the FedEx Cup playoffs. He needs a big week at Montreux, a place where he’s had mixed results.
“I really enjoyed it when I first came here,” Chalmers said. “I think in the past I haven’t come here with the right attitude. I’ve come here kind of hoping to play well rather than expecting to play well. This week I don’t have a choice.
“You know, it’s my seventh week in a row. I’m 118th on the FedExCup, and so a bad attitude is not going to help me. So I am trying to approach it with a good attitude and good energy about it.”