Golfer out of the ‘Schutte’ fast
Appeal Sports Writer
DAYTON – Warren Schutte has been to Dayton Valley Golf Club ever since the course started hosting the PGA Stage 1 qualifying event.
“I like coming out here, because I know what to expect,” he said after his first-round 66 Tuesday afternoon. “That’s why I keep coming back.
“It looks like the course is playing a little easier. Its only defense is the wind and the firmness of the greens. I’ve been playing pretty good. I’m going through a little bit of a swing change. I’m trying not to draw the ball.”
Schutte, who lost his Nationwide Tour card and played well on the Gateway Tour, recorded seven birdies and missed just one green. He is sharing the first-round lead with Ryan Ellis and Ron Harvey Jr.
Eight players – Matt Bettencourt, James Drew, Brandon Harnden, Justin Hartwick, Ajay Shah, Nate Whitson, Matt Zions and Graham DeLaet – are a stroke back at 5-under-par 67.
Ex-Galena star Travis Whisman, Mike Mezei, Brian Kontak, Ben Lammi and Brett Paquet are tied at 4-under-par 68. Nine players, including Joel Kribel, who played last year on the Nationwide Tour, are tied at 3-under-par 69. A total of 35 players shot under-par rounds. The top 27 players and ties in the 80-man field advance to the Stage 2 qualifier.
Schutte had seven birdies and one three-putt bogey during his round.
Starting his round on the back nine, Schutte hit a 9-iron to 2 feet for a birdie on the 475-yard par-4 17th. On the par-5 18th, his second shot landed in the green-side bunker, but he was able to get up and down for another birdie.
On the front side, he used a deadly short-iron game to put himself in position for four birdie putts ranging from 1-foot to 15-feet.
Ellis, meanwhile, had nine birdie and three bogeys.
“It was a good day,” Ellis said. “The greens were firm and fast.”
Ellis had four birdies on the front side. He had a 2-foot tap-in on the 505-yard par-5 third. On No. 4, he hit an 8-iron to 9-feet and drained the putt. On the 529-yard par-5 8th, he had a two-putt birdie. On the difficult par-4 450-yard 9th, he hit a three-quarter 8-iron to within 10 feet. It was one of the few approach shots that stayed on the green
He birdied 10, 11, 15, 17 and 18 on the back side, sinking putts from 3 to 12 feet.
Harvey, who played on the Nationwide Tour in 2005, had two eagles and three birdies.
On the par-5 529-yard 3rd, he blistered a 300-yard plus drive, lofted an 8-iron to the back of the green and drained a 40-foot snake for his first eagle. On the par-5 8th, he hit a sand wedge to 6 feet and drained the putt for his second eagle.
Whisman knows Dayton Valley well from his high school days, and he said that knowledge should give him an advantage in certain situations, especially off the tee in windy conditions.
“The wind picked up the last six or seven holes,” Whisman said. “Luckily it was downwind on the last two or three holes. Those holes would have been tough if we were playing into the wind.”
Whisman would obviously like to equal or better the 10-under-par score he put up at last year’s event. With a 4-under on the first day, he’s well on his way.
He carved out two birdies on the front. He drained a 2-foot putt for birdie on No. 3 and then two-putted for birdie on the par-5 8th.
On the 420-yard par-4 12th, he canned a 14-footer, and followed that with a nice 4-iron to within 2 feet on the 219-yard par-3 13th. On the 478-yard par-4 17th, the second-toughest hole on the course, he reached the green in regulation and dropped in a 15-footer. He followed with a 5-foot birdie putt on the 537-yard par-5 18th.
Mezei, who lives in Canada, had never played the Dayton Valley course until this week. He recorded five birdies and an eagle.
“I did some real good things,” he said. “I had a couple of loose shots on the back and made bogey.”
The eagle came on the par-5 546-yard 11th when he hit driver and a utility club that left him 20 feet away. He had three birdies on the front, sinking putts of 8, 10 and 4-feet, respectively. Before the eagle, Mezei hit a sand wedge to 5 feet for birdie and on the par-5 18th, he two-putted for a birdie after reaching the green in two with a driver and 6-iron.
Notes: The course played to a scoring average of 71.40 in the first round… There were 12 eagles, 281 birdies, 920 pars, 181 bogeys and 30 double-bogeys … The worst score of the day belonged to David Hart, who shot a 9-over-par 81 … Action gets under way today at 9 a.m.
• Contact Darrell Moody at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling (775) 881-1281
PGA Stage 1 Qualifying
at Dayton Valley Golf Club
66 – Schutte, Ellis, Harvey Jr.; 67 – Whitson, Zions, Hartwick, Bettencourt, Drew, Harnden, Shah, DeLeat; 68 – Mezei, Whisman, Kontak, Lammi, Paquet; 69 – Kruger, Kamin, Jeffress, Piercy, Baird, Stone, Meeks, Johnson, Beste; 70 – Kribel, Dawson Jr., Hatchett, Muth, Cooper, Derminio, Medley, Dombroski; 71 – Raulerson, Jacobsen, Snelling, Portie, Mason; 72 – Kennedy, Murphy, Alvarez, Galeski, Collins, Mahoney, Medina, Swilor, Van Aswegen, Correa, Bland, Levin, heron, Plate, Vermeer, Z. Johnson, Ebalo; 73 – Concha, Gordon, Baker, Townsend, Dougherty, Brown, Lee.