Three tied for lead in Wichita with play suspended

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Jhonattan Vegas is among the three players that will carry a lead into the second day of competition in Wichita.
August 06, 2009
Kin Lo, PGA TOUR Staff

WICHITA, Kan. -- With play suspended due to darkness at the Preferred Health Systems Wichita Open, Andre Stolz, Joey Lamielle and Jhonattan Vegas share the lead at 7-under-par. Five players are one shot back at 6 under and another 11 stacked up at 5 under.

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There were 27 golfers still on the course when play was halted with the final group through 13 holes. Play was delayed mid-morning for nearly three hours as thunderstorms passed by Crestview Country Club. This pushed the afternoon wave of tee times to nearly 3 p.m. and the final groups of the day did not begin their rounds until shortly before 5 p.m.

Stolz and Lamielle both started early in the morning shared clubhouse lead as light faded late in the day.

When the horns blew at 8:35 p.m. Vegas was one shot off the lead and had just hit his tee shot on the par-5 18th. Competition rules allow players to complete their current hole or mark the position of the ball and resume in the morning. As fans watched Vegas jog up the fairway on his final hole, there was no doubt of his intention.

"I really wanted to finish this round today," he said after the round. "I didn't want to come back early in the morning just to play a few shots."

The perseverance paid off. After just missing the green with his second shot, he chipped to about four feet and converted the putt for birdie to join the leaders.

"I was a little nervous about that last putt because I couldn't really see the line. I just tried hit it firmly at the hole and luckily it went in," he said. "But this is part of the game -- sometimes we have to push to finish."

This is the first time the 24-year-old Venezuelan has held a share of the lead in his rookie season on Tour. He has made six cuts in 10 starts so far and is currently 81st on the official money list.

Stolz is playing is first full competitive season since he was on the PGA TOUR in 2005. The Australian has been dealing with a nagging wrist injury that has kept him off the course. He has made three cuts in 10 starts in 2009 on the Nationwide Tour.

"It was an amazing day actually," Stolz remarked. "There were still conditions early and I was able to take advantage of them."

Stolz hit his approach to three feet on No. 16 (his seventh hole of the day) when the early thunderstorms forced players to evacuate the course.

"I was a bit worried at first -- especially when you're making birdies everywhere early on," said Stolz about the morning weather postponement. "Sometimes delays can really take the steam out of it. But I was able to come back and make that short putt to keep the momentum going."

Lamielle is a 27-year-old Florida Gulf Coast University graduate is playing his rookie season on the Nationwide Tour. He turned professional in 2005 and has played primarily on mini-tours since. He earned a spot in last year's U.S. Open Championship at Torrey Pines through sectional qualifying and went on to gain status on the Nationwide Tour at the PGA TOUR Qualifying Tournament in December.

All of the players at the top of the leaderboard have completed their rounds with the exception of Stuart Deane, who is tied for fourth at 6 under through 14 holes.

The resumption of Round 1 and commencement of Round 2 will be at 7:30 a.m. Saturday morning (a delay of 15 minutes from originally scheduled tee times).

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Notebook

Kevin Johnson is in the group at 5 under tied for ninth. He is looking for his third win of the year and an instant promotion to the PGA TOUR. Since his last victory at the Melwood Prince George's Open on June 7, Johnson has missed the cut in his last five events.

• S.S. Hong, Chip Sullivanand B.J. Staten withdrew before their tee times this morning and were replaced by Nick Beach, Keith Huber and James Drew.

• Two-time champion Brad Elderfinished with a 1-over-par 72 and is currently tied for 113th.

• This is the first time there has been a tie for the 18-hole lead in Wichita since 1998.

• Since 2001, the Crestview Country Club has hosted this event. The 6,886-yard par-71 course is one of the easier layouts on Tour, ranking 29th in difficulty of the 33 played in 2008. The par-5 finishing hole at Crestview plays to 520-yards and was the third-easiest hole on Tour in 2008 with 26 eagles, 253 birdies, 134 pars and only 9 scores over par.

• The current course record is 61 set by Gavin Coles in 2006. Scott Piercy set the 72-hole record last year with a 22-under 262.

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