Brooks Massey, Brent Roof, Tom Kennaday and Shane Rogan took different routes to arrive at the same point Thursday — at the head of the field after one round of the Midlands Chevy Dealers Columbia City Golf Championship.
Massey fired a steady-as-she-goes 4-under-par 68 to seize a one-stroke advantage after the first of three rounds over Spring Valley Country Club’s 6,791-yard layout. Rogan used a mid-round flurry of three consecutive birdies to highlight his 69, Kennaday bounced back from three consecutive bogeys and Roof sizzled with four birdies on his final five holes to also finish at 69.
“Hard work out there,” said Roof, the 2009 city champion who played at the University of South Carolina.
But guys who did not pick up a club are the real heroes, tournament director Bobby Foster said.
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“(Golf course superintendent) Happy Taylor and his crew did a wonderful job getting the golf course prepared after all the rain we’ve had,” Foster said. “We can’t thank them enough.”
Massey, a former Newberry College player who will graduate from USC next month, said he had “never played very well” in his five previous city tournaments, but he sparkled Thursday. He birdied both par-5s on the front and chipped in for another birdie on No. 8, making the turn at 3-under 33. He shaved another stroke off par at the par-3 13th.
“I led the first day of the match-play (tournament) qualifying, but otherwise this is my first time (to lead a tournament),” Massey, who plays at the Country Club of Lexington, said. “I had a bunch of good ups-and-downs today.”
Roof said his round tested his patience. He started on No. 10 with a birdie, then played the next seven holes in four over. He birdied No. 18, his ninth, and played his final nine in five under par.
“I told myself to be patient, it’s a long tournament, but I was getting frustrated,” he said. “I played solid golf, but I struggled to score.”
Roof, who has teamed with Paul Tucker to win the CGA Four-Ball and brother Justin to win the SCGA Partners championship this year, finished two strokes off the pace the last time Spring Valley hosted the city tournament and called the course a good test.
“This course requires shots both ways,” he said. “There are not many straight holes out there.”
Rogan, a College of Charleston golfer, started on the back nine and stood one over par after six holes. Then came the flurry — birdies on 15, 16 and 17 — that made his round. He played his final nine in one under.
Kennaday’s 18-hole adventure included six birdies and three bogeys. He started on the back nine with two birdies in his first four holes. He followed with three consecutive bogeys before birdieing his ninth to turn at even par. A three-birdie-in-four-hole stretch got him to three under for the day.
Nine players in the amateur competition broke par Thursday. Will Murphy (34-36), David Dargan (38-32) and Hunter Watkins (36-34) posted 70s, and both Ben Karns and Chase Sturkie fired 71s.
Defending champion Eddie Hargett shot even-par 72, and 11-time champion Steve Liebler finished at 73.
“A very commercial round,” Hargett said.
“Not as well as I have been playing,” Liebler said.
Defending champion Gus Sylvan shot 70 to lead the senior division by one stroke over Jimmy Burgess. In the super-seniors, Vic Hannon posted a 74 to earn a one-shot edge over Steve Pachol.
Rohan Allwood, professional at the Woodlands Country Club, shot 4-under 68 to lead the pro division, which will be contested over 36 holes. Clem King (Country Club of Lexington) followed at 70 and Tony Brahnam (Cobblestone Park) posted a 71. Defending champion Chris Miller, who returned to town late Wednesday night after five days on the road, struggled to an 80.
Tee times begin today at 8 a.m. with the pros expected to finish about 5:30 p.m. In Saturday’s final round, the leaders will start about 9 a.m. and the champion will be crown about 1:30 p.m.