Usual suspects lead in Celebrity
STATELINE – The usual suspects topped the leader board after the first round at the American Century Championship on Friday.
Three-time winner Dan Quinn and 1996 champion Billy Joe Tolliver were tied at +25, with six-time champ Rick Rhoden and Ivan Lendl tied for second at +23. Mark Rypien and Al Del Greco, who have each taken home one title, both scored +22.
The American Century Championship uses a modified Stableford scoring system. Players are awarded six points for an eagle, three for a birdie and one for a par. Bogeys do not score and double bogeys subtract two points.
Rhoden had the most eventful day, balancing four bogeys and a double bogey with six birdies.
“I don’t remember ever having a round like this here,” the defending champion said. “I guess 23 is a pretty good score for the way I played today.”
Rhoden, who is battling a neck injury that will require surgery after the tournament, had a strong back nine with birdies on 11, 13, 15 and 18. But a double bogey on the sixth hole after hitting into the water alongside the fairway kept him from creating a three-way tie at the top.
Quinn also excelled on the second half of the course, piling up four of his five birdies after the turn to only one bogey. He was part of the day’s best playing group with Lendl and Del Greco.
“It was a really good group, and I’ve played with those guys a bunch before,” Quinn said. “It’s funny, Al was actually playing the best through 14 holes.”
Del Greco led the group with 21 points after 14 holes, largely thanks to an eagle on the fourth hole, but he fell back with a bogey on 15 and double bogey on 16. He did manage to salvage a good score with a clutch birdie on the final hole.
Tolliver scored his +25 with a steady round, making his only bogey of the day on the 18th hole. He birdied three of the first six holes and settled for par on most holes, hitting all 18 greens in regulation.
“All day I hit one putt that didn’t go where I was looking,” he said. “I guess I just have to look better. Actually, I’m a pretty good-looking guy. I need to read putts better.”
Rypien, playing in the day’s first group, approached the 18th hole with a +16. His tee shot split the fairway and he knocked a 7-iron five feet past the hole, then made a downhill putt to make an eagle to launch himself into the early clubhouse lead.
“This tournament has changed, and the competition’s a lot tougher now,” said Rypien, who won the inaugural event in 1990 by shooting five over par. “You’ve got guys out here with their swing coaches, with psychologists. We’re all competitive people, and we get serious about what we’re doing out there.”
Neil Lomax was a surprise on the leaderboard at +21. The former NFL quarterback stood at just +9 after 12 holes but turned it on to birdie three of the final five holes.