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Collins' 65 provides early one-shot lead over six golfers

Published 8/4/2011 in Pro-Am

By BRETT MARSHALL

bmarshall@gctelegram.com

For the second consecutive year in which the Adams Golf Pro Tour Series has been partnering with the Southwest Kansas Pro-Am, the 89-degree temperature and cool breeze proved to be nearly ideal for the 103 professional golfers who opened the 72-hole event on Wednesday at The Golf Club at Southwind.

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Brad Nading/Telegram Jason Hill, Rockwall, Texas, sprays sand as he hits a greenside bunker shot Wednesday on The Golf Club at Southwind's No. 9 hole during the first round of professional play in the Southwest Kansas Pro-Am.

Brad Nading/Telegram Jason Hill, Rockwall, Texas, sprays sand as he hits a greenside bunker shot Wednesday on The Golf Club at Southwind's No. 9 hole during the first round of professional play in the Southwest Kansas Pro-Am.

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Brad Nading/Telegram Nick Mason, Denver, chips on to the No. 9 green Wednesday at The Golf Club at Southwind during the first round of professional play in the Southwest Kansas Pro-Am. Mason shot a 66.

Brad Nading/Telegram Nick Mason, Denver, chips on to the No. 9 green Wednesday at The Golf Club at Southwind during the first round of professional play in the Southwest Kansas Pro-Am. Mason shot a 66.

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Brad Nading/Telegram Tyler Lytton, Winfield, follows through on a tee shot off The Golf Club at Southwind's No. 3 hole Wednesday during the first round of professional play in the Southwest Kansas Pro-Am.

Brad Nading/Telegram Tyler Lytton, Winfield, follows through on a tee shot off The Golf Club at Southwind's No. 3 hole Wednesday during the first round of professional play in the Southwest Kansas Pro-Am.

The biggest beneficiary of the cooler, calm conditions was none other than defending champion Wil Collins of Albuquerque, N.M., who fashioned a bogey-free round of 6-under-par 65.

"I really don't like playing in hot weather, so today was really a break and I was able to take advantage of it," Collins said. "When I got here Monday, I saw the wind blowing but today it was just dead calm. I made some good putts and had a couple of real key up and downs to save par."

Collins' 65, though, was far from safe in the deep and talented field.

Six players were just one shot back at 66. That group included Anthony Broussard of Addison, Texas, Derek Tolan of Highlands Ranch, Colo., Nick Mason of Denver, Matt Boyd of Sugar Land, Texas, Jonathan Moore of Purcellville, Va., and Kane Webber of Denver.

More than an inch of rain fell at Southwind overnight Tuesday resulting in a one-hour delay of starting times, allowing Collins a much-welcomed extra 60 minutes of sleep.

"I woke up, looked at the weather notice online and went back to sleep," Collins said. "It was a long, hot drive coming up here on Monday."

Collins birdied the par-4 second (15 foot putt), par-5 third and fifth (two putts on each), and then hit a wedge to six feet on the par-4 eighth and drained it. Making the turn at 4-under 31.

He did have to salvage par on the par-5 10th, a 600-yard hole where his short iron approach sailed over the green. He hit a soft flop shot to three feet and made it for par. He followed that up with a 6-foot birdie putt at the 11th, and then made a 20-footer for his final birdie at the 564-yard, par-5, devilish 15th after laying up and knocking a sand wedge on the green.

"That's a hole that you have to respect," Collins said. "You don't have to try for that green in two and I never have. I haven't made eagle, but I haven't made double bogey either."

For Tolan, one of the six at 66, his round was steady, making five birdies with no bogeys.

"I hit a lot of greens (15) and putted well (28), and that's a good combination," said Tolan, making his third appearance at the Pro-Am. "It turned out to be a weird day as the rain made the greens more receptive. Personally, I like firm greens, but the weather today was about as good as possible. You don't find many days, especially around here, that it's cool and there's no wind."

Tolan's birdies came at the third, sixth and eighth holes on his outgoing nine, and then at the 10th and 15th on the incoming nine. His birdie at the 15th came after a greenside bunker shot left him with an 18-inch tap-in.

While those were key to his round, he said his most critical putt came at the 16th, where he missed the green long, pitched back to eight feet and drained it to save par.

"That's the round-saving shot and putt of the day," Tolan said. "That felt like a birdie and I really felt great walking off the green."

Both Collins and Tolan said their summer schedule was limited. Collins had not played well for much of the year while Tolan said he played fine when he was competing.

"I have a new instructor and we've made a few changes," Collins said. "It's been kind of a tough season with the changes that I would call significant. It's coming, but it never comes as fast as you'd like. I think spending last week at home with my family gave me a chance to re-energize and be rested. (My wife) is my biggest supporter."

Tolan has been attempting to qualify for many Nationwide Tour events, with a 14th place finish his best of the season.

"I started playing well in April and it's kind of just carried through," Tolan said. "Early in the year, I wasn't getting much out of my rounds, but now the scoring is coming."

The second round was to continue today with tee times beginning at 7 a.m. and running until 1 p.m. at Buffalo Dunes Golf Course.

See results in Scoreboard, Page B2.

____

No wind means lower scores

After the first round of the 32nd annual Southwest Kansas Pro-Am, there were 37 professionals in the field of 103 that finished under par.

As one observer remarked when looking at the scoreboard with a lot of scores in red (under par), "when the wind doesn't blow, the scores go low."

Another 19 players were at even-par 71, making 56 in all who were at par or better. With the cut coming after today's second round to the low 45 scores and ties, it was looming that the scissors might come right at even par 143.

The players took advantage of ideal weather conditions — the temperature was 68 at 8 a.m. when the first group teed off and it was 89 for a high late in the afternoon.

The average score was 71.4 or just .4 of a stroke above par. The four par-5s played the easiest with a stroke average of 4.78 while the five par-3s were the toughest, playing to a stroke average of 3.14. The remaining nine par-4s had an average score of 4.06.

Of the par-5s, the 564-yard 15th hole was the toughest, playing to an average of 5.09.

The 524-yard third was the easiest at 4.56.

The 209-yard fourth was the most difficult of the par-3s, playing to a stroke average of 3.27 while the 180-yard 16th was close behind at 3.17.

The 166-yard ninth was the easiest at 3.01. Of the nine par-4s, the 452-yard 16th played the hardest at 4.20 with the 427-yard 14th on its heels at 4.16.

The easiest of the par-4s were the 11th and 12th holes, playing to an average of 3.89 and 3.92.

In summary, the first day produced 10 eagles, 337 birdies, 1,167 pars, 317 bogeys, 32 double bogeys and nine scores categorized as "others."

The field moves to Buffaldo Dunes Golf Course today for the second round of golf.

After the field is cut, the third round will return to the Golf Club at Southwind.

Amateur play will also begin Friday at Southwind and Buffaldo Dunes. Registration for the amateur event began today..

The winner of this year's Pro-Am will be crowned on Saturday with the awards presentation following approximately 30 minutes after the conclusion of the final round.


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