Four-way tie for first round lead in Tour qualifier at Dayton Valley |

Four-way tie for first round lead in Tour qualifier at Dayton Valley

By Larry Windsor Special to the Nevada Appeal

DAYTON — The word of the day from players as they signed their scorecards was “brutal”. Yet four players managed to card 4-under par 68 to share the first-round lead in Stage One Tour Qualifying at Dayton Valley Golf Club.

Jonny Baxter, Pleasanton, Calif., Tim Carey, Plymouth, Mass., Eddie Olson, Aptos, Calif. and Jimmy Makloski of Pueblo, Colo. turned in the low round 68’s in gusty, swirling winds that got progressively more intense as the day went forward. Ben Geyer of Arbuckle, Calif. shot an opening 3-under 69 to be in solo fifth place.

Only 15 players in the field of 77 were under par in the difficult scoring conditions. There were an additional eight players at even par and a surprisingly high number of nine players who turned in scores in the 80’s.

Baxter, Carey and Geyer benefitted from being among the first three groups off the tee before wind conditions escalated to the brutal stage. Olson and Makloski on the other hand turned in stellar performances when conditions were the worst among the last three tee times.

“I didn’t hit it that great, but I made a lot of par putts to stay in it, it was a grind,” said Olson who had a bogey-free round. “The conditions are as tough as I have seen them here, but I like it, embrace it and it’s fun.

“This is a thinker’s course and I plotted my way around it very nicely,” said Olson who is playing in his fifth Dayton Q-school. “You could have shot yourself in the foot today, but I didn’t, and the previous experience helped a great deal.”

Makloski is playing in his second Dayton Q-school after finishing in a tie for 16th last year to advance to Second Stage by one-stroke lower than the number. He also felt the experience helped him overcome the difficult conditions.

“I played smart out there today and I knew where I needed to hit it,” he said. “But putting was the key and knowing the greens helped. But as fast as the greens were, I was mostly reading wind more than slope.”

McQueen High grad Trent Virden of Reno fired an even par 72 and is in an eight-way tie for 16th place. That position would be right on the qualifying number if the tournament ended today.

“This is one of the harder days I’ve played here,” said Virden who recently married and took a job in the mortgage business so he could still pursue his dream of becoming a touring pro. “The winds were swirling throughout the round and really picked up at the end. The greens are so fast that the ball was oscillating making it especially tough over par putts.

“But I hit the ball well and felt good all day,” he continued. “I had a lot of birdie putts, but they were just tough to get in the hole.”

Former Nevada Wolf Pack golfers Kaleb Gorbahn and Grant Booth had a tough start in conditions they both found unusually difficult considering the number of rounds they have played at Dayton during their Nevada careers. Gorbahn shot a 3-over 75 and is tied for 40th place. Booth shot 12-over 84 and sits in last place.

“I’m not really out of it with these tough conditions,” said the native of Canada playing in his first professional event. “But I’m going to have to play well next three days. I found out the combination of Q-school pressure and the wind definitely have an effect on the body and the mind.”

The 22 low scores and ties after Friday’s final round of the 72-hole tournament will advance to Second Stage Tour Qualifying at five sites in November. Players advancing to the second stage will play to make the Qualifying School Final where they will vie for a spot on the 2019 Tour