The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

The BNI

July 13, 2014

Familiar names stand atop BNI leaderboard

Mays and Powers tied at 2-under-par; Canada and Jude giving close chase

BECKLEY — David Hunter, the director of the 34th BNI Memorial Tournament, sponsored by First Community Bank, may not have known the exact scores to fill in, but the names at the top of his leaderboard could have been put in place before Saturday’s opening round even began.

After 18 holes of play in the 54-hole event, the top of the chart is filled with names familiar to the BNI, including past champions and those who have been on the verge of winning in previous years.

Six-time winner Mike Mays and Huntington’s Michael Powers, who was 10th a year ago, are tied at the top at 2-under-par, while a couple of youngsters are chasing the two veterans in Winston Canada and Davey Jude.

The nearly 160 golfers were split between Grandview Country Club and The Brier Patch Golf Links on Saturday. They will switch courses for today’s second round before coming together on the Cobb Course at The Resort at Glade Springs for a final 18 holes on Monday.

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At Grandview, Powers was the leader after the opening round for the second straight year. Playing in one of the final groupings of the day, he came home with a 2-under 70, after opening with a 68 a year ago.

Powers overcame a double-bogey on the back nine with six birdies.

“I putted well,” said Powers, who estimated he was playing in his 14th BNI. “I didn’t particularly hit the ball well, but I putted extremly well.

“I know I didn’t win it on the first day, but I didn’t take myself out of it. That’s the key.”

The two other under-par scores at Grandview came out the same group. Canada and Jude — who will both play in the West Virginia Open later this month — came home with 71s.

Canada’s round didn’t start off well as he hit a ball out of bounds on No. 8 and made double bogey, but he had three birdies on the back nine to get back under par.

“The key to tournaments like this is you don’t go out and try to shoot 62 every day you play,” said the Oak Hill High School graduate, who explained he hasn’t played as much golf as he’d like this summer after switching jobs. “You just have to stay steady and keep yourself in the hunt. That’s what it boils down to.

“I think I’ll be alright. There’s a lot of golf left to play. I’ll just have to go low the next two days.”

Jude, who recently completed his redshirt-freshman season at Marshall University, was 1-under through four holes but took a double-bogey after clipping a tree branch and hitting it in the water on No. 5. He got back to under-par with birdies at Nos. 8 and 10 and then coasted home with a run of pars.

“I had to grind for pars,” said the Tug Valley High School graduate. “For the way I hit it, it was a good scoring round. It won’t take me out of it. If I throw up a couple under-par rounds the next two days, I should be pretty good.”

Former Meadow Bridge coach Ed McCall shot an even-par 72 to open the tournament. He holds the lead in the Silver division for golfers 60 to 69 years of age. Defending champion Brandon Reece — a three-time BNI winner — didn’t have his best round with a 2-over 74, but he’s still well within striking distance as the golfers switch courses for today’s second round. Rick Thompson shot an 80 for the low round of the Gold division for golfers 70 and older.

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At Brier Patch, Mays, the tournament’s only six-time champion, fired a 2-under-par 70 to claim a share of the first-round lead.

Mays, 51, qualifies for the Senior division — as does Powers, 56 — but he showed Saturday he is still to be taken seriously for the overall championship, not just the senior title.

“I’ve still got a little bit of game left,” Mays said. “I’ve been playing more golf this year than I have in the past, and it just really reflects that.”

Mays’ day started with a 33 on the front nine, highlighted by a chip-in for eagle on the 593-yard ninth hole, and a birdie on the par-5 No. 5. His round could have been better if not for a pair of bogeys on the back nine.

“All in all, I hit the ball really, really good,” Mays said. “It’s a tough course; that’s not saying anything (bad) about it. I played it smart. I played within the distances I wanted to hit it. I didn’t hit a lot of drivers or anything like that.”

Scores were noticeably higher at Brier Patch, certainly the more difficult of the event’s two opening-round courses. But Mays, who plays Brier Patch once a week, was pleased with course conditions.

“The golf course is in excellent shape,” he said. “They have done a fantastic job of getting it ready for the golf tournament. It’s been in good shape all year.”

Brandon Waters, 29, and Greg Midkiff, 36, both turned in even-par 72s at Brier Patch to go into today’s second round just two shots off the lead.

— Sports editor Cam Huffman and assistant sports editor Gary Fauber contributed to this story.

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