Great conditions lead to bunched up scoreboard
Appeal Sports Editor
Evidently those who have planned the first stage of the PGA Tour qualifier at Dayton Valley Golf and Country Club knew that the conditions were expected to be virtually perfect this week.
One could have expected the scores at Dayton to be extremely low on the first day on Tuesday with virtually no wind. But since the greens were fast and firm, most of the players were bunched with five shots of each other.
There was a five-way tie for the lead after the first round with Bill Lunde of Las Vegas, South Africa’s Tyrone Van Aswegen, Andy Barnes of Scottsdale, Ariz., Nathan Celusta of Ventura, Calif., and Chris Kamin of Phoenix all at 5-under-par 67.
In recent years when the conditions have been this good, low scores have been in the 63-65 range with course record of 62 being shot twice. But the fast greens prevented those kinds of scores from happening on Tuesday.
The number of players from the 78-player field who will move on to the second stage of qualifying won’t be known until today. Normally about the top 25 plus ties move on. If that’s the case, the cutoff point was 2-under 70 on Tuesday as the top 30 players were at 70 or under.
Those who advance past the second stage make it to the PGA Tour qualifying finals for the right to be on the PGA Tour.
Kamin, who made his eighth trip to Dayton, wasn’t surprised that the scores weren’t lower.
“It was about what I expected,” he said. “The greens are very fast and very firm. They’re playing a lot like Thursday or Friday conditions instead of Tuesday.
“It’s going to make it pretty tough for somebody to shoot a 63, something low. They’re probably the fastest greens I’ve play all year.”
Kamin said the course is in good shape. “The surfaces are excellent,” he said. “It’s fair. It’s not tricked up. It’s not goofy.”
Kamin said he had several makeable putts for birdie that he couldn’t convert. He had a round of two eagles, two birdies and a bogey. His eagles came on the 11th and 15th holes. “I got a couple of really good breaks,” Kamin said.
One of those breaks came on the eighth hole when Kamin got a ruling in his favor after a 20-minute delay. He ended up with a par on the hole.
Kamin has made it to the PGA qualifying finals before, earning him a spot on the Nationwide Tour. He has also played several PGA events.
Lunde demonstrated Dayton’s status in the PGA. Lunde, who played at UNLV from 1993-98, is at Dayton because the other courses he used to play are no longer hosting PGA qualifiers. “The places I used to go aren’t available any more,” he said.
This is the 13th straight year that Dayton has hosted a PGA qualifier, the longest such streak for any course in the nation.
Ironically, another reason why Lunde chose Dayton is because he can handle playing in the wind. “I can play in the wind pretty well,” Lunde said.
Lunde wouldn’t mind if the wind picks up at least a little bit. “If it blows that’s great,” he said.
But with or without the wind, Lunde is pleased with Dayton. “I like to play courses that are harder,” he said. “I’m just fortunate to play well.”
Lunde played on Butch Harmon’s mini-tour in Las Vegas and as the tour’s leading money winner that qualified him for the recent Frys.com PGA event where he was able to make the cut.
“I played well,” Lunde said. “A few putts here and there would have changed things dramatically. I wished I would have made a few more putts. It was great preparation for here.”
Lunde also played on the Nationwide Tour in 2004 and 2005 before taking about a year-and-a-half off. He also played in the 2003 U.S. Open in Chicago.
“That was a great learning experience,” Lunde said. “That was a big confidence buildup for me.”
So Lunde also has the confidence he can earn his PGA Tour card. “I know I can compete at that level,” he said. “It’s just a matter of getting in there.”
Lunde ended his front nine with a birdie at 18 to move to 1-under. He rolled to within three feet of the cup on the par-3 fourth to set up a birdie, holed out of the bunker on No. 6 for another birdie and eagled No. 8 to move to 6-under. He bogeyed his last hole, the ninth, for his only bogey of the day.
With conditions expected to be benign for the rest of the week, it was important to have a solid start on Tuesday because it will be difficult to come back as the conditions should be favorable for all the golfers.
Barnes made sure he got off to a solid start when he birdied his first hole and eagled his third hole on his way to shooting a 5-under on the front nine and he cruised from there.
The four-round tournament continues today through Friday.