Nature Valley First Tee Open 2014
Blaine McCallister takes opening honours
September 27, 2014
Blaine McCallister used a late charge on Friday to take a 1-shot lead after the first round of the First Tee Open.
McCallister, who has never won on the Champions Tour, fired a first-round, 5- under 66 to jump out in front of the pack. McCallister played his first round at the par-71 Poppy Hills Golf Course.
Half of the field played at Pebble Beach Golf Links, a par-72, on Friday, with the other half playing at Poppy Hills. Also, those participating in the event played alongside junior players from around the country along with amateur contestants.
"Poppy Hills played differently than Tuesday," McCallister said. "I'm swinging at it well. Hitting the golf ball well. I'm starting to feel like I belong out here."
John Cook, Skip Kendall, John Inman, Tom Byrum and Lee Janzen are all one shot behind McCallister at 4-under. Cook and Kendall played their first rounds at Poppy Hills and they carded matching 67s. Inman, Byrum and Janzen shot 68s at Pebble Beach.
Marco Dawson, Jose Coceres, Mark Brooks, Paul Goydos and Fred Funk played at Pebble Beach as well, shooting 69s to tie them for seventh at 3-under. Jay Haas also fired a 3-under 68 at Poppy Hills.
Two-time defending champion Kirk Triplett is three shots back after his first- round, 2-under 69 at Poppy Hills and he is tied for 13th as he looks to make it three straight victories at this event.
Beginning his round on the back nine at Poppy Hills, McCallister did not get off to an ideal start as he tripped to a bogey on the par-3 11th. He atoned for that mistake, however, when McCallister drained birdies on two of the next three holes from No. 12, getting him into red numbers early.
After a pair of pars on 15 and 16, McCallister poured in his third birdie on the 17th and made the turn with a par on the 18th.
McCallister made his fourth gain of the day on No. 4 after making three straight pars from No. 1. McCallister pulled even atop the leaderboard with a number of players when he made a birdie on the par-4 eighth and he took the outright lead with his second straight gain to end his day on No. 9.
Cook was even par through nine holes with two birdies and two bogeys, but a big move on the back nine with four birdies on 10, 13, 15 and 18 got him to within one of the lead. Kendall went bogey-free in his first round with two birdies on both the front and back nine.
Inman started on the back nine at Pebble Beach and made four birdies to go along with two bogeys in the opening stretch. His finishing nine was quieter as Inman made two birdies on five and eight.
Byrum, playing the front nine first at Pebble Beach, started with a bogey but made up for it with a birdie on the third and an eagle on the sixth. Byrum finished things off with back-to-back birdies on 15 and 16 to get him into a tie for second.
Janzen was up-and-down on the back nine, his front, at Pebble Beach with two birdies, a bogey and a double-bogey as he made the turn at plus-1. An eagle on one and a birdie on two had Janzen rolling, however, and he added two more gains on five and nine to join four others at 4-under.
Triplett played the front nine first at Poppy Hills and made two birdies and a bogey. He also rattled off eight straight pars from No. 10 on the back nine before closing with a birdie at the last to end at minus-2.
NOTES: McCallister has five career victories on the PGA Tour. His most recent win on a professional tour was at the Web.com Tour's 2003 Northeast Pennsylvania Classic ... Triplett has three Champions Tour wins, with two of them coming at this event ... Poppy Hills replaced Del Monte Golf Club, which was the second course alongside Pebble Beach at last year's event.