Published 8/9/2012 in Pro-Am
By BRETT MARSHALL
Nick Mason and Derek Tolan know all too well, when the wind doesn't blow during the Southwest Kansas Pro-Am, both The Golf Club at Southwind and Buffalo Dunes are reasonably defenseless.
Becky Malewitz/Telegram Robby Ormand, Austin, Texas, hits a shot on the ninth green Wednesday at The Golf Club at Southwind during the Southwest Kansas Pro-Am.
Becky Malewitz/Telegram Fergal Rafferty, Carrickmore, Ireland prepares to put on the ninth green Wednesday at The Golf Club at Southwind during the Southwest Kansas Pro-Am.
Those two Pro-Am veterans from the Denver, Colo., area were among 27 golfers who took advantage of calm (5-10 mph) wind conditions to give par a good old-fashioned thrashing.
Mason, along with Roger Sloan of Merritt, British Columbia, took the first day lead with 7-under-par 64s, while Tolan and Ireland's Fergal Rafferty were right behind with 65s.
Six players were in a logjam at 4-under 67, while another eight golfers were together at 68.
Mason and Tolan have been on the leaderboard in past Pro-Ams, but neither has been able to close the door for a victory. Tolan was the 54-hole leader a year ago before Chris Ward's final-round 65 bypassed him, and he and Todd Rossetti finished tied for second four shots back.
Mason was happy to get this year's Pro-Am off to a quick start.
"It's absolutely a confidence builder," Mason said. "I haven't been playing all that good until recently and so this is a nice way to continue playing well."
Mason recently finished fifth at the Colorado Open, an event won by Tolan.
"I made the cut on the number and then played the weekend 12-under-par," Mason said. "Today, I just got the putter going, everything I hit was solid, there really wasn't any struggles out there. It was more of a ball-striking round for me today. I never really was in a place where I struggled to make anything but par or better."
With Mason and Tolan starting their round on the tougher back nine at Southwind, they were happy with their scores of 1-under 35 (Mason) and even-par (Tolan).
"If I turn on the back nine and I'm under par, I'm really fine with going to the front," Mason said.
He had birdies on the 11th, 12th and 16th holes on the back side and then added in birdies on the first, fifth, seventh and ninth holes.
"Everything was just a huge confidence builder today," Mason said.
For Tolan, coming off the win at the Colorado Open at Green Valley Ranch Golf Club has been a big, big boost to his confidence.
"I'd been playing pretty good golf, but nothing good was happening until I won the (Colorado) Open," Tolan said. "I needed to get something out of it (the round) and today I was able to do that. The course here is pretty demanding and I just seem to be able to play better on the harder courses. This is a course that just sets up well for me."
For Sloan, his appearance in Kansas is a different twist from most of his summer golf on the Canadian Tour, but he acclimated himself well to Southwind and was thrilled with his start.
"I got off to a really good start and it just seemed to carry on through," said Sloan of his five consecutive birdie binge on holes two through six. "I made a 40-footer on No. 2 and that seemed to get me in a good rhythm on the greens. Most everything else was in the five to eight foot range, except I made a couple of other 20-footers, too."
Sloan was pleased with his overall ball-striking effort.
"I just hit everything solid today, tee to green," he said. "Getting off to a good start puts you in contention for the rest of the tournament. This is like a marathon and today was the start. You know you did your job when you've shot that kind of score."
Pro-Am notes: Three of the top players expected to compete either withdrew or were never entered in the tournament, according to Adams Golf Pro Tour Series tournament director Tyler Wohlford.
Brian Rowell, the leading money winner on the Adams Tour, had a prior family commitment this week and was never intending to play this week; Kevin Tway, son of former PGA Championship winner Bob Tway, came down with an illness on Monday while trying to qualify in Springfield, Mo., for the Web.com Tour; and Bronson Burgoon, winner of the two previous Adams Tour events, withdrew due to an injured wrist.
Last year's winner, Chris Ward, finished with an even-par 71, while Rossetti struggled en route to a 72.
Kelly Kraft, the 2011 U.S. Amateur champion who competed in this year's Masters, was one of those players in the group at 3-under-par 68.
Second round play was to continue today at Buffalo Dunes Golf Course, with tee times starting at 8:30 a.m. The field of 66 pros and one amateur will be cut after today's second round, and the players making the cut will be paired with the amateur teams for Friday and Saturday's final two rounds, which will be contested at both golf courses.
See results in Scoreboard, Page B2.
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