SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Six players fired 6-under 66s Thursday and share the clubhouse lead in the rain-delayed opening round of the Price Cutter Charity Championship, one of four original events on the Web.com Tour schedule.
Andy Winings, J.J. Killeen, James Nitties, Cliff Kresge, Brett Stemaier and Matt Hill currently share the lead over seven players knotted at 5-under 67 – including Missouri grads Jason Schultz and Peter Malnati. Ten more are already packed in a 4-under 68 and just two shots back.
The 24th annual gathering at Highland Springs Country Club didn’t get started on time as heavy morning rains forced players to wait out a 5 ½-hour delay. The net result is that half the field will return to the course early Friday to complete their first rounds and then turn right around and begin Round 2.
Leading the half-dozen co-leaders is Kentucky grad Winings, who finished third a year ago, missing out on a playoff by one shot.
“I played well here last year and I have good memories,” said Winings, a second-year tour member from the University of Kentucky. “I bogeyed the first hole but after that I played flawlessly. Overall I can’t complain.”
Winings did admit to changing his strategy a bit to accommodate a golf course that has been deluged by more than 11 inches of rain in the past week and a half.
“The idea was just to put it in the fairway,” he said. “I didn’t care if I had 160 yards as opposed to hitting driver and having only 110. I just wanted to be able to take advantage of the lift, clean and place conditions. If you miss the fairway, it will punish you. The rough’s really thick.”
Winings almost didn’t get a chance to play this week. He has made only one cut in five total starts and his conditional member status has kept him on the sidelines most of the year.
“Basically I’ve been reshuffled out and left to Monday qualify,” he said. “I haven’t even been checking the list because I’ve been so far back. I felt stupid even looking because I’m so far out.”
After playing poorly in the qualifier Monday, Winings was 30 minutes out of town and heading back to Indiana when he decided to sneak a peek at the list.
“I saw I was only eight out and turned around and came back,” said. “I wound up getting in Tuesday afternoon.”
--Play was halted due to darkness at 8:03 p.m. The first-round will resume at 8:00 Friday morning. The second round is slated to begin at approximately 11:00 a.m.
--Andy Winings has made the cut in one of five starts this year. His only payday came at the Rex Hospital Open, where he tied for 49th. Winings is currently No. 234 on the money list.
--Bogey-free rounds were carded by J.J. Killeen (66), Jason Schultz (67), John Peterson (68), Peter Lonard (69) and Sebastian Vazquez (69).
--The Web.com Tour returns to Knoxville, Tenn., for next week’s News Sentinel Open. The tournament will be held at the Fox Den Country Club.