Veterans Scott Dunlap and Geoffrey Sisk shot 6-under 65s Thursday and share the first-round lead at the Nationwide Tour’s inaugural Mylan Classic. Both players posted eight birdies and two bogeys at the Southpointe Golf Club, located about 15 miles south of downtown Pittsburgh.
The two co-leaders are one shot in front of seven others, including Tommy Gainey, one of three double-winners on the Nationwide Tour this year. Joining Tommy "Two Gloves" at 66 are Dicky Pride, Brent Delahoussaye, Brian Smock, Jonathan Kaye, Paul Stankowski and Bronson La'Cassie.
Rocco Mediate, a native of nearby Greensburg, heads a list of six others tied at 4-under 67, two back. Mediate has made 588 career starts on the PGA Tour since he first popped onto the professional scene in the mid-1980s but is making his Nationwide Tour debut this week.
Dunlap snuck into the lead with birdies on four of his final five holes, taking over the spotlight from playing partner Pride, who had blistered the front nine for a 6-under 29.
"Dicky was the one going crazy. He put it neutral and I got it to the house nicely," said Dunlap. "After nine holes, it looked like he was going to shoot 58. Hicksy (Justin Hicks) and I were just trying to hang on."
Dunlap did surprisingly well for his first venture on the course. He didn't get a practice round in this week, choosing to walk the course with only a putter in hand on Tuesday.
"I've been around a long time," said the 47-year-old. "There isn't much that they can throw at me that I haven't seen before. Thursday morning probably shouldn't be the first time I see it. It's probably not advisable but I have absolutely no tolerance for the 5 1/2 hours that a Tuesday's going to take. That one round isn't going to make any difference in how I do on Thursday. How much can you learn in one day?"
While Dunlap didn't play the course ahead of time, Sisk, was forced out of his comfort zone in Wednesday's pro-am, his only look at the Arthur Hills layout. Sisk's travel plans took him from Boston to Baltimore to Pittsburgh, but somehow his golf clubs wound up in Philadelphia. Thursday morning, he had his regular set back in his hands.
"I just had really good distance control, which is important," he said. "I felt like no matter what club I had and no matter what shot I had that, while it might not have been close, it would be pin high, which is what I strive for. I'm really happy how I hit it."
Sisk got off to a blazing start with six birdies on his first seven holes but then stalled out from there on in, off-setting two birdies with two bogeys the rest of the way.
"You can't win the tournament today," he said. "But you put yourself in position for tomorrow's round, for Saturday and for Sunday."
Mediate challenged the leaders for most of the afternoon but suffered a bogey on the final hole to fall two shots off the pace. The 47-year-old has made only seven cuts in 21 starts on the PGA Tour and came into this week looking to improve his play on the greens.
"I just wanted to hopefully putt better, that's all I've been trying to do all year," he said.
Mediate was playing in the area last Sunday and decided to make a slight change in his putting grip, which might be the change he needs to turn his season around.
"I just changed my right-hand grip. I've been watching Nick O'Hern putt a lot. It was almost like you were holding a pencil but your palm is pointing to where you're trying to go,” he explained. “Today was one of my best putting rounds in a quite a while. I'm really excited about it because that's what's been kicking my butt the last two years."
First-Round Notes: David Robinson was the last man in the field, gaining a spot when John Riegger withdrew on Tuesday. He then registered the first ace in tournament history with his 5-iron from 177 yards on the par-3 third hole. Robinson was in the fourth group off the back nine in the morning. The ace got him to 2 under after 12 holes. He finished with a 2-under 69. … Geoffrey Sisk birdied six of his first seven holes and shot a 6-under 30 on the back nine. … Dicky Pride posted a 6-under 29 on the front nine. … Will MacKenzie had a pair of eagles on par 5s (Nos. 8, 13). … The scoring average for the first round was 71.929. … A total of 52 players posted sub-par scores.