CULLMAN — The rain held off in the perfect part of the day Saturday for the Chesley Oaks Open to begin. While raining both in the morning and in the evening, the afternoon was all clear for a round of 18 holes.
After the first day, the lowest score was a 4-under par 67, scored by Patrick Wigington. In a close second with a 69 was Kevin Byrd, who won the open two years ago. Then at 70, there are five people tied.
“The scores are a little higher than usual, but that’s just because the course is in such great shape,” said golf professional and general manager Cary Craig. “There’s a lot of good players playing in it, but they’re finding the course playing longer because of the weather and the rough being grown up a little bit.”
According to Craig, the championship flight for Day 2 will have around 20 people, and the other four flights will each have 15. Total turnout for the tournament was 79 golfers.
In the championship flight, those golfers will be required to tee off from a different distance on the course. Labeled by gold markers, the extra distance is around 600 yards longer than on the blue markers, where the other four flights will tee off from.
Last year’s winner Zac Tucker, who was among those that scored a 70, said because of the rain in the morning, the greens were playing slow.
He hadn’t played as well as he’d hoped. While starting slow, on the occasions he finally felt a rhythm, something would throw it back off.
“I bogeyed the first two holes, and I parred the rest of them, and birdied number 10, but then bogeyed after that,” he said. “I just couldn’t get anything going today.”
It’s also his first time back on the Chesley Oaks golf course since winning last year’s open. He said he was trying to relearn the course on Saturday, which was tough.
Tucker said this year’s competition compared to last year’s is about the same.
“I don’t really know the guy in first, but I know Kevin, and it’s good competition,” he said.
To Craig, there were no surprises as to who would be competing in the championship flight.
“Pretty much the people that I thought were going to be in it are,” he said. “There’s a small spread between first place and, let’s say, 10th place, so really the top 10 people, it’s anybody’s tournament. Anybody could win.”
With higher competition on the second day being in the championship flight, Tucker does expect his game to improve.
“I play better when I play with really good players, so if I get in that last group, I feel like I’ll play better,” he said. “The seriousness of the round will be a lot better. It’ll be more exciting to me. I enjoy it when it’s got a lot of competition.”
Craig said for the second day, he expected the scores to be similar.
“The scores this year are more tightly bunched,” he said. “We don’t have as many higher scorers as we’ve had in the past, but we also don’t have as many low scorers. I kind of look for tomorrow’s scores to be the same. I think somebody shooting somewhere around 137 will probably win.”
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