OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- Former Kansas State standout Aaron Watkins and Jason Gore, a former PGA Tour winner, share the first-round lead in the weather-interrupted Midwest Classic on the Web.com Tour. Watkins and Gore each shot a 6-under-par 65 on Thursday and lead Michael Connell and Christopher DeForest by one stroke.
Due to a three-hour weather delay in the afternoon, first-round play was suspended for the day at 8:05 p.m. due to darkness with 69 players still on the course.
Players who didn’t complete the first round will begin play at 7:30 a.m. on Friday and that all second-round tee times have been moved back one hour.
Watkins and Gore were just two of the players who took advantage of morning tee times. Playing in the day’s first grouping, Watkins’ impressive round included six birdies and no bogeys in windy conditions (15-20 mph) at the Nicklaus Golf Club at LionsGate. He made the turn at 2 under par, but closed with four birdies on his final six holes, including a six-footer for birdie at No. 9 to finish his day at 6 under.
“It was a good start for me and I’ll take 6 under on a day like this,” Watkins said. “I’ve been doing a lot of things right all year long and lately it’s been my putter which has been lacking a bit. I’ve been hitting the ball well but just not making any putts.”
Watkins didn’t have many problems with his putter on Thursday. He needed only 24 putts in his bogey-free round, including just five in his final six holes. He is currently 37th on the Web.com money list with $89,651 and three top-10 finishes.
A star at K-State from 2001-04, Watkins was an NCAA qualifier for the Wildcats and also served as a team co-captain during his four-year career.
“It’s nice being back in the Midwest for these three events we’ve had and seeing some Purple Pride around,” Watkins added, referring to his K-State roots. He is staying with his college roommate this week in the Kansas City area.
A seven-time winner on the Web.com Tour and the winner of the PGA Tour’s 84 Lumber Classic in 2005, Gore is playing the 2012 season on a major medical extension after missing much of last year with shoulder problems.
“I hit some really good shots today and made all the putts I needed to,” Gore said. The greens are perfect and I hit some shots that were really close and had a couple of ‘leaners’ which always makes it nice. I also played the par 5s pretty well.”
Gore made birdies on all three of the par-5s and of his eight birdies, seven of the putts were within 10 feet. One of those was a mere eight inches when he nearly holed his 5-iron on the par-3 17th hole for an ace.
--Play was suspended from 3:08-6:10 p.m. due to threatening weather.
--Michael Connell made the 17th ace of the 2012 Web.com Tour season when he drained a 4-iron from 212 yards on the second hole in the morning. He finished at 5 under par.
--John Chin and Reid Edstrom were disqualified following their rounds. Chin was DQ’d for not signing his scorecard, while Edstrom signed for an incorrect score.
--Kansas City native Michael Letzig posted a 1-over-par 72, while Derby, Kan., native Woody Austin shot an even-par 71.
--2011 champion James Nitties posted a 3-under-par 68 and his round included five birdies. Nitties is donating $20 for each birdie this week to Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City and $100 for every eagle.
--Christopher DeForest was credit with a 390-yard drive on No. 6, while Scott Harrington had a 384-yard drive on the same hole.
--Robert Streb, like Watkins a Kansas State graduate, was 1 under par through 11 holes when play was suspended.