Riegger takes lead before darkness hits Louisiana

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John Riegger, 46, leads the Chitimacha Louisiana Open, where play was suspended due to darkness Thursday.
March 25, 2010
Joe Chemycz, PGA TOUR Staff

BROUSSARD, La. -- John Riegger rolled in a 10-foot birdie putt as darkness fell to break an eight-way tie for the opening-round lead in the Chitimacha Louisiana Open, the initial domestic stop on the 2010 Nationwide Tour schedule.

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Riegger polished off a 5-under 66 at the Le Triomphe Country Club minutes after play was suspended for the day and moved in front of seven others in the weather-delayed first round.

Vance Veazey, Garth Mulroy, Luke List, Jason Enloe and Monday qualifier Patrick Grady all posted 4-under 67s and are currently tied for second place.

The Tour's return to the United States was delayed 70 minutes at daybreak because of rain and thunderstorms. Failing to start on time resulted in 20 players failing to finish their rounds.

Aron Price is 4- under and will return to putt out on the final hole in the morning, while Casey Clendenon is 4 under with three holes to go.

Scott Gutschewski, Tag Ridings, Kevin Kisner, Charles Warren and Jon Mills are tied at 3-under 68 and holding a share of ninth place.

Riegger, 46, capped off a seven-birdie effort shortly after the horn sounded to suspend play at 7:27 p.m. His 3-iron from 215 yards settled just past the pin and gave him a chance to break the logjam that formed at minus-4.

"I couldn't even see my second shot land," said Riegger, who has undergone Lasik surgery three times, most recently in 2006. "I thought it was in the bunker. Nobody clapped and when I got up there and saw it was close, I was surprised. To make that putt, in low-light conditions was just a bonus."

It's all been a bonus to this point for Riegger, who had major surgery in December to repair ligament damage and a torn labrum in his right shoulder.

"I didn't know if I was going to play again," he said. "I gave myself a pretty good attitude adjustment because I didn't know if I'd be able to play golf again."

So far, so good to open the year for Riegger, who tied for 29th at the Panama CLARO Championship and tied for sixth at the Pacific Rubiales Bogota Open the following week.

It was also a pretty good day to Veazey, who struggled at time to hit eight fairways and 13 greens in regulation while posting the first of the 67s that made it to the leaderboard.

"There's only one reason I shot 4 under today -- the putter," said Veazey. "I need to hit the ball much better the next three days. I struggled with my ball-striking pretty bad today. I made four or five putts that were the difference in my score."

One of those putts was racing, 60-foot birdie from off the green at the par-5 seventh.

"I was just hoping to get that up-and-down and it went in the hole," he said. "That could have been a two-shot swing there.I feel like I just as easily could have shot 1-over par. Golf is always interesting."

It's been an interesting couple of weeks for Grady, who turned 23 on St. Patrick's Day. The University of Colorado All-American finished at 19 under to win a mini-tour event 90 miles away in Alexandria, La., last week. He then carded a 64 in the Monday qualifier to get into this tournament, his first career start on the Nationwide Tour.

"It's different today. It's a Nationwide event and I got a little nervous out there," said the 2009 CU grad. "It's a little nerve-wracking at first but you try to lie to yourself that it's just golf. That's the game plan for the rest of the week -- just lying to yourself."

First-Round Notes:

* The start of play was delayed 1 hour, 10 minutes due to rain and fast-moving thunderstorms in the area. The first tee time moved from 7:40 to 8:50 a.m.

* A total of 20 players did not complete Round 1 Thursday. Round 1 will resume at 8:15 a.m. Friday.

* The second round will begin on time Friday at 7:40 a.m.

* Players who were bogey-free today: Tag Ridings (68)

* Defending champion Bubba Dickerson failed to make a birdie in the opening round and shot a 5-over 76. He is currently T130.

* The Tour's top two money-winners, Bobby Gates and Jim Herman, both posted 1-over 72s.

* The first-round scoring average is currently 72.071.

* The hardest hole on the golf course is currently No. 14, a 485-yard converted par-4. The scoring average for the hole is a whopping 4.611. There have been 55 bogeys, 14 double-bogeys and 2 'others' at the hole. South Carolina rookie Mark Anderson was the only player in the field to birdie the hole in the opening round.

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