(Photos by Michael Fischer)
The three-way tie atop the leaderboard at 7-under-par feature two University of Minnesota seniors, Robert Bell and Erik Van Rooyen. Bell set the course record in his first round last year with a 61 before finishing the tournament in third at 15-under-par. Van Rooyen, a native of Oudtshoorn, South Africa, was a second team All-Big Ten performer last year for the Gophers.
Scott Benson of Jackson, Minnesota is also tied at 65 after the first day of competition, which featured nearly two-thirds of the entries. Benson was a former All-American at Iowa Lakes and just finished his senior season with Alabama State's golf team.
Benson carded seven birdies and 11 pars, while Bell eagled the par-5 No. 14 and made seven birdies against two bogeys. Van Rooyen made eight birdies and one bogey in the opening round.
Scott Benson finished tied for 16th (-1) last year, while his brother Brett Benson finished 10th (-6). Brett is also in the hunt after round one, carding a 4-under 68.
Spencer's Pat Boyd aced the No. 5, 197-yard par-3 for a memorable shot early on day one. Boyd would finish with an 82.
Thirty of the 214 golfers that have teed off shot under-par, while another 10 shot even par (72). The last two year's championship flight cut has been at even or 1-under-par. The remaining 135 golfers will tee off during Friday's morning session.
Others in contention early in the tournament are perennial NW Am contender Ryan Kinseth of Fort Dodge (-6) and Iowa Lakes golf coach Andy Soper (-5). Last year's champ, Kirby Pettitt, shot a 4-under-par 68, as did former Spencer standout and Northwestern College golfer Jay Monahan.
Chris Vandell, the 1994 champ, is also in position after the first day with a 68. Josh Manske, a top-4 finisher in each of the last three years including the 2009 championship, will tee off Friday morning. Cory Braunschweig, the 2006 winner, is also scheduled to begin play Friday morning.
Players that teed off Thursday morning will complete their second round Friday afternoon, while the remaining players will play on Saturday to determine Sunday's championship flight (top 32 scores and ties after two rounds). The championship flight will play two rounds of 18 holes to determine the championship on Sunday.
|Place||Player||Round 1||To Par|
|1||Scott Benson, Jackson, Minn.||65||-7|
|1||Robert Bell, Pierz, Minn.||65||-7|
|1||Erik Van Rooyen, Oudtshoorn, South Africa||65||-7|
|4||Ryan Kinseth, Fort Dodge||66||-6|
|5||Andy Soper, Estherville||67||-5|
|5||Ryan Starkman, Evanston, Ill.||67||-5|
|7||Brett Benson, Jackson, Minn.||68||-4|
|7||David Haley, Jr., Hilliard, Ohio||68||-4|
|7||Jay Monahan, Spirit Lake||68||-4|
|7||Kirby Pettitt, Carroll||68||-4|
|7||Zach Steffen, Des Moines||68||-4|
|7||Chris Vandell, Des Moines||68||-4|
|13||Joseph Bethel, Ankeny||69||-3|
|13||Terry Cook, Johnston||69||-3|
|13||Nick Fear, Milford||69||-3|
|13||David Moulton, Somerset, Wisc.||69||-3|
|13||Chad Wood, Des Moines||69||-3|
|19||Gary Ellis, Norwalk||70||-2|
|19||Jay Kautt, St. Paul, Minn.||70||-2|
|19||Chris Kramer, West Des Moines||70||-2|
|19||Neil Riedemann, West Des Moines||70||-2|
|19||Michael Wuertz, Davenport||70||-2|
|24||Blake Bengard, Alton||71||-1|
|24||Scott Bethel, Ankeny||71||-1|
|24||Jon Burns, Brandon, S.D.||71||-1|
|24||Ryan Gellert, Fairmont, Minn.||71||-1|
|24||Bill Mathers, Cushing||71||-1|
|24||Chad Pitts, Ames||71||-1|
|24||Marc Riley, Emmetsburg||71||-1|