|Inside the Numbers|
|Owen vs. Quinn thru 18|
Owen birdied the seventh hole from two feet, and after a three-putt bogey at the ninth he made another tap-in birdie at the 10th. Three consecutive birdies on Nos. 12-14 already had him in good shape, but he improved his round with birdies on Nos. 17-18 to shoot a closing nine of 6-under 30.
Owen has had a great start to the 2008 Nationwide Tour season with three top-three finishes in his first five tournaments, including a playoff loss to Robert Damron at the Athens Regional Foundation Classic. He is currently seventh on the money list with $154,812, well inside "The 25" who will earn their way to the PGA TOUR at year's end.
The 36-year-old Englishman, with three years of PGA TOUR experience under his belt, has been working hard on his game to get back to the TOUR where he feels he belongs.
"This is probably the best I've played all year. I've been working hard all year," said Owen, the 2003 British Masters champion. "I believe I belong out there and I've proven I can compete out there. I'm here for a reason and I have to work hard to get back."
Owen competed on the PGA TOUR in 2005, 2006 and 2007, earning more than $3,000,000 and posting a career-best second-place finish at the 2006 Bay Hill Invitational.
On a day where the heat index reached 105 degrees, Owen pointed out the importance of taking care of your physical condition.
"It's hot," he said. "You have to drink a lot of water. This course is a long walk, quite hilly and very spread out. It's vital you keep hydrated."
Quinn, from Holden, Mass., had a bogey-free round that included two great par-saves at Nos. 3 and 11.
"I was fortunate enough to have some close ones for birdie today and I took advantage of it. I hope I can do the same tomorrow," said Quinn, who plays out of TPC Boston.
"The heat was draining today and that made it difficult," said Quinn. "Normally I would practice after my round but today I told my caddie to pull the car up and get the A/C cranking."
After starting the day with a bogey (one of just two on the day), local favorite Brad Fritsch steadily moved his way up the leaderboard late in the day to headline a group of five players at 5 under. He reeled off birdies at Nos. 2, 4, 6, 9, 10, 13 and 16, and sits tied with California's Spencer Levin, Idaho's Tyler Aldridge, Texas resident Keoke Cotner and Andres Gonzales from Las Vegas.
Levin's good form continues after a season-best tie for fifth at the Bank of America Open.
"On the front nine I missed a couple short birdie putts, but made a couple good up and downs that kept my round going," said Levin. "I birdied the last two holes, which was a nice way to end the day."
First-Round News & Notes: Leading money-winner David Mathis was 4 under par through 15 holes but dropped three strokes in his last three holes to finish with a 1-under 70. ... Kris Blanks hit 15 greens in regulation on his way to a 3-under 68. He hit all 18 greens in his final round last week in winning the Bank of America Open. ... Josh Broadaway compiled eight birdies in his 4-under-par 67. ... Jordan Walor, an 18-year-old from Wake Forest who qualified for the Rex Hospital Open with a victory in a Pro-Junior Invitational last Sunday, scored 6-over 77. ... Ed Willingham, the executive vice president of First Citizens Bank, one of the tournament sponsors, scored a hole-in-one at the 169-yard 11th hole during Wednesday's pro-am to win a 2008 Maserati GranTourismo car.