Multiple PGA Tour winner and Ryder Cup player Chip Beck rolled back the years during yesterday’s opening round of the Grey Goose World Par 3 Championship at Turtle Hill Golf Club.
The 60-year-old American fired an impressive four-under-par 50 to grab the early lead and a share of the tournament record with Canadian Brian McCann.
One shot back in second is Chris Ward, also of the United States, with Bermuda’s Michael Sims tied for third with Canadian Oliver Tubb at two-under-par 52.
Three-times LPGA Tour winner Trish Johnson is in a three-way tie for fifth at one- under-par 53.
Beck, the 1990 Buick Open winner, was among the early groups that started their round in lighter breezes and he took full advantage to give himself plenty of momentum. He was three-under through eight holes after three birdies, including back to back birdies at No 3 and No 4.
Beck stumbled on the last hole on the front, where he carded the only bogey after his tee shot landed next to a tree to the right side of the green. But he quickly regained his poise, playing the last nine holes at two under par, which included additional birdies at No 12 and 15, to take early control of the 36-hole tournament.
“It was a good score on this course,” Beck said. “I feel honoured that I was able to score a great score. I caught it early when it was not windy and then it got windier in the afternoon and I got up and down a couple of times and made some key putts.”
Beck missed a birdie attempt on the last hole which would have given him the tournament record outright.
“I think I wanted that one a little too much,” he grinned.
The three-times US Ryder Cup member and one of only six players who have shot 59 on the PGA Tour will now look to solidify his lead in today’s final round playing in a threesome along with Ward and Tubb.
“I’m excited about tomorrow,” Beck added. “I’d like to see what it feels like to come here and see if I beat some of these young kids.”
And so is Ward, who took a huge chunk out of his compatriot’s lead after entering the clubhouse later in the afternoon just one shot off behind.
Ward’s round contained six birdies and three bogeys.
“It was pretty solid,” he said. “I was a little rusty at first but had no bogeys on the back, so it was pretty solid.
“The conditions were difficult. The greens are pretty small but they are in great shape, though, if you are just able to get on them. The wind is definitely a very strong defence for the course.”
For the second straight year Sims carded an opening round two-under-par at this event to place himself thick in the hunt for honours.
The former Web.com Tour player’s round included five birdies, a double bogey and a bogey.
“I’m extremely pleased with my round today,” Sims said. “I was pretty fortunate to make a bunch of birdies which covered up the mistakes.
“It was gusty out there and definitely not the easiest conditions. But the golf course is in great shape and the greens are phenomenal, so kudos to the everybody here. They are fast and rolling true.”
Sims will play in the second last group in today’s final round alongside Michael Murray, of the United States, and Tom Gillis, of the PGA Tour.
Tournament debutant Johnson, who is also an 18-times winner on the Ladies European Tour and eight-time European Solheim Cup member, was also pleased with her round.
“I really enjoyed it and I couldn’t have actually hit the ball any better,” she said.
Bermuda’s Spencer Wideman and Tariqah Walikraam lead the men’s and women’s amateur division with another local, Craig Christensen, leading the senior men’s division.