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Three tied for lead in qualifier

Larry Windsor
For the Appeal

DAYTON — A trio of golfers playing their first competitive round at Dayton Valley Golf Club share the first round lead in the Stage One Web.com Tour Qualifying tournament.

Amateur Cameron Davis of Sydney, Australia, Steven Fox of Hendersonville, Tenn. and Gavin Green of Selangor, Malaysia all fired 6-under par 66 to lead the field of 74 players.

Another trio of Ben Geyer, Arbuckle, Calif., David Vanegas, Medellin, Colombia and Damien Telles, The Dalles, Ore., sit one shot off the lead after opening with 67. Three players are tied for seventh at 4-under par.

The three players atop the leaderboard come from different parts of the world and different stages of their golf careers.

The amateur Davis is testing U.S. waters to see where his golf career may take him.

“I decided to see what it’s like at this level over here,” said the 11th ranked player in the world amateur rankings. “If I play well like I know I can, I feel I can get through to the Tour.”

When asked if he will turn pro if he earns a 2017 Web.com Tour card he said with a big grin, “I think so, yeah I’d love to play a full season over here.”

Starting on the back nine the 21-year old Davis got off to a slow start with two birdies and a bogey. Then he caught fire and birdied the first three holes on the front. He capped off his round with an eagle on the par 5 eighth hole when he knocked his 6-iron second shot to 6-feet and canned the putt.

“This course is fantastic, these are the best greens I have putted on in a long time,” he said. “My only strategy is to keep it in the fairway. Even though the rough isn’t really deep, it’s a bit of a lottery and it’s difficult to spin the ball out of it to these firm greens.”

Green is playing in his first event as a professional in the United States. It’s not like he’s a rookie, however. He played for his home country of Malaysia this summer in the Rio Olympic Games where he finished 47th. He has won three times on the Asian Development Tour, once as an amateur and twice as a professional.

He got off to a bad start by nearly missing his tee time.

“I was rushing so much at the start that I three-putted the first hole and the next few holes my putting was sloppy,” explained the former New Mexico Lobos golfer. “Then I settled down and birdied the first three holes on the back nine. I hit the ball very solid and I am happy with my game plan for the next three rounds.”

Fox is the veteran amongst the leaders at the ripe old age of 25, but he’s one of the more experienced players in the field. He played in 20 events on the 2016 Web.com Tour and finished in 128th place that sent him back to first stage qualifying. This is his fourth trip to Q-school and he has made it to the finals in two of his first three attempts.

“The best way to go through Q-school is to try to win it,” Fox said.

the former UT-Chattanooga golfer. “If you go out to shoot low every day and come up short you still qualify. If you try to play to just shoot under the number, you may not make it.”

Starting on the back nine, Fox got off to a sizzling start by making 4 consecutive birdies and on five of his first six holes. He cruised in with one more birdie and no bogeys for a clean, solid round.

Exactly one-half of the 74 players in the field were under par with 37 in red figures and another 11 shot even par 72. The field had an under-par overall opening round scoring average of 71.61 — a little better than three strokes lower than last year’s first round average of 74.74 and one of the lowest in recent history.

The 24 low scores and ties after Friday’s final round of the 72-hole tournament will advance to Second Stage Web.com Tour Qualifying at five sites in November. Players advancing to the second stage will play to make the Web.com Qualifying School Final where they will vie for a spot on the 2017 Web.com Tour.