Carter surges to Hall of fame lead
Willow Creek’s new Bermuda grass greens kept Ron Carter searching for answers.
He found enough to shoot a 5-under-par 66 Wednesday and take the first round lead by two shots over Paul Simson in the National Senior Hall of Fame tournament, which was played last year just before the club converted from its bent grass greens.
“I played here enough on the old greens,” said Carter, the event’s 2007 winner who at 66 has been eligible to play for 11 years. “These are a lot quicker. It’s a guessing game. They are kind of hard to read.”
Carter made all the right guesses out of the gate, surging to 5-under par thanks to three birdies and an eagle from the fairway in the first seven holes. A bogey and two birdies later, he was 6-under before missing a 2-foot putt for par on the 18th hole.
“I did OK but there is a long way to go,” Carter said. “You can’t win the tournament on the first day but you sure can lose it.”
Because of the change in putting surfaces, Carter was much more comfortable around the greens when he won six years ago.
“But, it was not a big difference,” Carter said. “I guess when you get to be my age and play as much as I have, you take the good with the bad.”
He has been playing so long that he was even-keeled about holing out for eagle from 100 yards on the No. 3. He had laid up after hitting his tee shot into a wet area. That was followed by another player in the threesome chipping in for birdie.
“I really didn’t have that much reaction,” Carter said. “One of the guys in the group thought it went in. I knew it was close and when I got to the green, I knew it was in because there was only one ball on the green.”
Simson, who is seeking his fourth victory in six years, wasn’t happy with the way his round ended. He made six birdies and a couple of bogeys before missing a birdie putt at 16 and misplaying second shot into a water hazard and making bogey on 17.
“I was staring at 66 and I shot 69,” Simson said. “But it’s not bad. I played pretty solid today and I hope it will continue.”
A total of eight players broke par. Rick Cloninger is third at 2-under 70, one stroke ahead of a group of five at 1-under 71. Logan Jackson of Winston-Salem fared the best of area players by shooting even-par 72.
In the Super Senior Division for players over 65 who elect to play a shorter course, Larry Boswell shot a 1-under 71 to take a 3-shot lead. Boswell had three birdies and two bogeys.
“I played solid,” Boswell said. “I had only one three-putt so I kept it around the hole.
“Overall, making my short putts was the key. The greens are a little firmer than they were with the bent grass. But, the putts are rolling true. They will go where you hit it. Speed is the key because there is not as much break (as before).”