ENDICOTT, N.Y. -- Tripp Isenhour, Shaun Micheel, Paul
Claxton, Joe Ogilvie and David Morland IV, five golfers clawing to
establish themselves as regulars on the PGA Tour, shot 7-under 65s
Thursday and shared the first-round lead at the B.C. Open.
The five started what has become the annual ritual of the pros
carving up the 6,974-yard En-Joie Golf Club course. No golfer in
the 30-year history of the event has ever shot an above-par round
during the tournament and won.
Jay Haas, one of the top names in a tournament dominated by
lesser lights as it goes head-to-head again with the British Open,
quit after teeing off on No. 15 due to apparent kidney stones. He
was being evaluated at a hospital Thursday evening.
Among them, the five leaders made 383 starts in PGA tournaments
heading into the B.C. Open without a victory. Isenhour is having the
best year of the group, making the cut in seven of 10 events and
earning $207,144 for 138th on the money list.
The best-ever finish for any of the leaders in a tour event is a
fourth-place tie by Ogilvie at the 2000 St. Jude Classic.
Isenhour made a three-putt bogey on his first hole of the day
and followed with eight birdies and nine pars. His 65 was a
significant improvement over his last two opening rounds on tour -- 79 at the Western Open and 78 at the Greater Milwaukee Open. He
missed the cut in both.
''It was a little bit like, `Oh, boy,''' he said of his only
bogey. ''But I just said I was going to stay patient today and not
try to force things.''
Morland has missed the cut in eight of the nine PGA tournaments
he has played this year as he splits his time between the PGA and
Buy.com tours. The highlight of his round was an eagle at the
short, par-4 16th when his wedge from 66 yards skipped past the pin
by about four feet and backed up into the cup.
Micheel said a sloppy bogey on the par-4 18th -- his ninth hole
of the day -- woke him up and he made five birdies in six-hole span
starting at No. 3.
Oglivie, who had a bogey-free round, has made only two of nine
cuts on the tour in 2002.
Claxton had nine birdies and two bogeys, and took only 25 putts.
''I was real hot with the putter today,'' he said. ''I think
that's the key -- hitting good tee shots and rolling the putter.''
Claxton was the last of the leaders to finish, and he did so as
threatening skies moved in following a hot, humid day.
''We were hustling to get in,'' he said.
Defending champion Jeff Sluman shot even-par 72. Paul Gow, whom
Sluman beat on the second playoff hole last year, shot a 6-under 29
on the back nine, his opening nine of the day, but cooled off to
finish at 67.
Wilson's best finish in 32 previous PGA events was 20th in the
2000 Buick Open. He said he was with friends in Fort Worth on
Tuesday expecting to be on vacation this week when he got a call
telling him the final spot in the B.C. Open field had opened.
He arrived in Endicott on Wednesday evening and shot a 66
without a practice round.
''That's why we came up here -- hopefully to make a decent check and who knows? Maybe to have a chance to win,'' Wilson said.
Bob Byman was disqualified for signing an incorrect
scorecard. ... Chris Perry, the B.C. Open champion in 1998, was
also at 7-under until bogeys at Nos. 13 and 14 dropped him to
5-under and he finished with a 67. He is playing in only his fifth
PGA Tour event of the year as he struggles with injuries to his
left wrist and thumb.