There are hot streaks and then there are hot streaks. Peter Tomasulo is suddenly on a streak that is rarely seen in the game of golf. The 28-year-old Californian picked up right where he left off four days ago and fired a 10-under-par 62 Thursday to take a two-stroke lead after the first round of the inaugural Chiquita Classic.
Tomasulo shot a 10-under 61 in the final round of last week’s Ford Wayne Gretzky Classic in Canada to overcome an eight-stroke deficit and earn his second career win and pocket a check for $144,017 in the process.
“It feels great right now. I’m on a high,” he said following an afternoon round that featured nine birdies and an eagle. “I’ve never shot back-to-back rounds this low. I’ve never felt momentum like this before. I just want to keep playing right now. I don’t want to stop.”
He’ll have to pause long enough to get some sleep and be back at the TPC River’s Bend course in time for a 7:50 a.m. tee time on Friday.
“Confidence means a lot out here,” he said. “You get on a roll like this and maybe if I didn’t win last week I would be a little more excited or been a little more careful out there. I don’t know if that’s the reason or just that I’m playing well and I’m hitting better shots.”
Tomasulo missed three fairways and four greens but needed only 23 total putts, including a three-putt bogey on a par-5, to complete his course record-setting round.
“I’ve been aggressive with my iron shots and it’s paying off,” he said. “I’m not hitting them to kick-ins, I’m making some nice putts from five to 10 feet.”
That’s not entirely accurate. Tomasulo had to negotiate only one foot for birdie at No. 4, holed a bunker shot for birdie on No. 5 and his wedge shot on the par-3 seventh hole was in the ‘sneezeable’ range of about one inch.
“I was 4 under through 7 and I got a little excited and hit a bad tee shot on 8,” he said. “I calmed myself down and went on a good little run there. I’m doing a good job of staying in the moment and not letting it get to me. I want to keep doing that as long as I can.”
Though it’s not an official record because it spans two tournaments and five days, Tomasulo’s consecutive rounds score of 123 is lower than any player has ever posted in Nationwide Tour history. Kevin Chappell set the mark of 124 (61-63) in the opening two rounds of last week’s pro-am event. Tomasulo’s two-day, 20-under total is also one better than the Tour’s lowest sub-par scores of minus 19, first set by Webb Simpson at the 2008 Chattanooga Classic and tied by Chappell last week.
Lost in all the hoopla of Tomasulo’s late-day theatrics were a lot of other low scores on a golf course swamped by 2.7 inches of rain on Tuesday and there for the taking. Tommy Gainey, winner of the Melwood Prince George’s County Open in early June, held the clubhouse lead for most of the day following an early morning 8-under 64, which put him in second place.
David McKenzie, Jesse Hutchins, Troy Kelly, Peter Gustafsson, Jason Gore and Justin Smith all share third place with 7-under 65s. Six players are knotted at 6-under 66 and 18 more are at 5-under 67.
For the day, the scoring average on the par-72 layout that overlooks the Little Miami River was 70.308.
“This course suits everyone,” said Gainey. “I don’t think it favors anybody. You’ve still got make some putts.”
First-Round Notes: Three players in the field have local connections: Cincinnati native and University of Cincinnati grad Jim Herman fired a 3-under 69 and is tied for 46th place. Middletown native and Wright State University (Dayton) grad Frank Lickliter also posted a 3-under 69. Brad Adamonis, a graduate of nearby Miami University, is in the house at 4-under 68. … Brad Adamonis and sponsor exemption Kyle Voska (82) were not only teammates at Miami University in Oxford (approx. 45 minutes away) but they were also roommates on campus during Adamonis’ senior year.
Tarik Can, a Monday qualifier, is an Augusta State alum who began the season caddying for Tour member Major Manning and shot a 2-under 70. … Jason Gore had the low front-nine score with a 6-under 30. … Peter Tomasulo had the low back nine with a 6-under 30. … Jason Gore reeled off seven birdies in a 9-hole stretch starting at No. 3, and was 10 under for his final 15 holes, including a 3-putt bogey. … Colt Knost, finishing up on the front nine, closed with a B-B-E-B run to reach 6-under 66.
Adam Meyer had a pair of eagles on par 5s (#8 and #11). … Leading money-winner Chris Kirk fired a 5-under 67 and is tied for 15th. … Kevin Chappell, who held the outright lead after each of the first three rounds last week, shot a 3-under 69. … Sam Saunders, grandson of Arnold Palmer, shot a 1-over 73. He received a sponsor’s exemption into the field this week.
South Carolina rookie Mark Anderson suffered through a double-digit, quintuple-bogey 10 on the par-5 eighth hole. Anderson started his day on the back nine and was 1 under par when he hit two tee shots out of bounds and eventually three-putted. He finished with a 4-over 76. … 107 players in the 156-man field posted sub-par scores in round one. A total of 123 players shot par-or-better rounds. The players who carded even-par 72s are tied for 108th place. … Nine players in the field hit all 14 fairways. … Kevin Kisner and Peter Tomasulo lead the field in putting with 23 total putts each.