Eight birdies give first-round lead to Price in Carolinas

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May 15, 2008
Joe Chemycz, PGA TOUR Staff

GREENVILLE, S.C. -- Rick Price fired an 8-under-par 64 and moved into the first-round lead at the BMW Charity Pro-Am. Price posted his score at Carolina Country Club, one of three courses being used in the unique format that pairs Nationwide Tour professionals with amateurs and celebrities.

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David Mathis and former Clemson star Matt Hendrix carded 7-under 65s at Carolina CC and share second place with Peter Tomasulo and Canada's David Hearn, who were playing in the same group and shot their 65s at Bright's Creek Golf Club just over the North Carolina border in Mill Spring.

Rich Morris, who tied for third at last week's Fort Smith (AR) Classic and Bill Lunde are tied for sixth place after posting 66s at Bright's Creek, while Michael Boyd shot a 66 at Carolina CC.

The lowest rounds at Thornblade Club, the host course for the event, were 5-under 66s by a half-dozen players, including Matt Weibring and Kevin Hall, a sponsor pick this week.

Hockey great Wayne Gretzky and pro partner Chris Nallen share the lead in the team competition at 13-under par. The two shot their 59 in the better-ball format at Bright's Creek while the tandem of pro Matt Hansen and 14-year old Tucker MacDonald combined for a 59 at Carolina CC. MacDonald, a freshman at nearby Riverside High School, also happens to be the son of tournament director Darin MacDonald.

Price put together his career-low round in relation to par in moving to the front of the $675,000 Nationwide Tour event. The 39-year old Price, who turns 40 on Sunday, got off to a quick start by rolling in a 20-footer for birdie on the second hole.

"I made a long slider on the second hole and it was off to the races for the rest of the day," said Price. "I putted well. I made a lot of long ones today. It seems like I made everything I looked at. It was nice to see them go in for a change."

Price, who averages nearly 30 per round, used only 26 in Thursday's opener and was 7-under after just 10 holes.

"I changed my routine a little bit. I have gotten rid of lining up my logo before putts," said Price, who teamed up with Academy Award nominated actor Greg Kinnear for a 10-under 62. "I didn't have any expectations coming into this week but I've always seemed to play well at this event."

Mathis started his day on the back nine at Carolina CC and after a par at No. 10, the 34-year old North Carolinian reeled off six consecutive birdies before hitting a shot into the water at No. 18.

"I've had streaks like that before but they never get old," said Mathis. "It feels good to see putts fall in. In a nutshell, it was pretty much solid golf. I drove it in play, hit it close and holed the putts."

Hendrix, a later afternoon finisher, plays out of the Thornblade Club and is playing in front of family and friends this week.

"The big thing is when you are playing at home, you get zoned in on things at home," said Hendrix, who has his brother caddying this week. "It's much easier to relax in a hotel room. Today, my mind was at ease.

Notes: A total of 165 professionals teed it up in the first round, leaving the field three shy of the scheduled 168. There were no alternates remaining as the list of Tour members was exhausted. Many of the players in this week's field got into the AT&T Classic at TPC Sugarloaf...Tripp Isenhour withdrew prior to the start of the round because of back problems...Fabian Gomez and Danny Briggs both withdrew late Wednesday night and were not able to be replaced in the field...Matt Bettencourt had two eagles, both on par-5s at Carolina Country Club...There a total of just 10 eagles made at the three courses -- seven at Bright's Creek, two at Thonblade Club, one at Carolina Country Club...Emlyn Aubrey (No. 11/Bright's Creek) and Matt Hansen (No. 5/Carolina CC) had eagles on par-4s.

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