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Three tied for the lead at Chattahoochee

Hooters Tour event takes to round two Friday

POSTED: March 24, 2011 9:41 p.m.
Scott Rogers/The Times

Joshua Wooding, of Riverside Ca., attempts a long putt on the 18th green of the Chattahoochee Golf Course Thursday afternoon during day one of the NGA Hooters Tour's Charter Childhood Cancer Awareness Classic.

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Justin Smith's first order of business after turning in his scorecard at Chattahoochee Golf Course on Thursday was to walk over to the driving range and catch up with his friend Matthew Anderson.

Smith and Anderson were both former teammates at the University of Minnesota as well as two of the lowest scores in the first round of the NGA Hooters Tour's Charter Childhood Cancer Awareness Classic in Gainesville.

Smith was one of three golfers to turn in a first round 3-under 68. Anderson, from Edina, Minn., was one shot back in a group of three golfers tied for fourth at 2-under 69. The second round opens Friday with the first tee times at 7:45 a.m.

"The wind was really bad out there today, but I struck the ball well all day and really didn't have too many bad shots," said Smith, who is tied for first with Scott Parel and Chris Wilson.

Anderson had an eagle on the Par 5 sixth hole after hitting a five wood from 270 yards to within 6 feet of the cup.

"It landed short of the green on No. 6 and it ran up to the cup, which I hit for eagle," said Anderson, a professional for seven years now. "I'll take that any day."

He also turned in birdies on three of the four par 3s at Chattahoochee.

The biggest story of the day was golfers was factoring in the wind to their club selection. Anderson says with the strong gusts it could impact the next shot by as much as two clubs.

"It was tough playing out their today," said Michael O'Neal from Jacksonville, Fla, who also carded a 69. "I was just trying to par as many holes as possible and birdies were just a bonus."

Joining Anderson and O'Neal at 69 was Brandon Brown from Shelbyville, Ky.

Anderson's best shot from the tee came on the 14th hole when he knocked a 6 iron from 198 yards to within a foot of the cup, which he tapped in for birdie.

The other two par 3s he birdied were No. 8 and 12.

As a longtime member of the Hooters Tour, Anderson knows to not get overwhelmed by being tied for the lead after the first round, even though the prospect of winning his first event is exciting.

"All it means is that I'm off to a good start," Anderson said. "I'm going to have to keep playing well here since the winning score is always low."

After a sluggish start to his round with bogeys of No. 10 and 11, Wilson, from Columbus, Ohio, turned in a birdie on No. 13 to get back on track.

On No. 13, he hit a sand wedge from 124 yards to within eight feet of the cup.

Wilson, the winner on the Winter Series Tournament Championship in 2008, was consistent the rest of his round, trying to compensate for the breezy conditions.

Smith, who is fresh off playing the 2010 season on the Nationwide Tour, wasn't as much concerned with the wind as he was being too tentative on the greens. And getting to the green was no trouble for Smith, who hit 17 greens in good shape to save par.

He even had a 10-foot putt for eagle on No. 6, which narrowly missed the cup. Smith has three wins on the Hooters Tour in his career.

Smith says the key to winning is to focus on what is upcoming, rather than where you stack up on the leaderboard.

"If you make the shots you need to make, winning will take care of itself," Smith said.

Meanwhile, O'Neal enters the second round with a sense of momentum after rounding out Thursday's first round with three consecutive birdies.

He had tap-in putts for birdie at No. 16 and 18 to finish up the day.

"That was definitely a good way to end the day," O'Neal said.

Dawsonville's Blake Palmer carded a 3-over par 74.

Gainesville's Justin Cochran and Murrayville's Josh Bunch each finished with a 6-over 77.

 



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