Four share lead at Nationwide Children's Hospital Invitational

July 24, 2008
Mark Williams, PGA Tour Staff

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The inaugural Nationwide Children's Hospital Invitational was played in strong, gusty winds last year and the winning score was 6-under 278. With perfect weather conditions and receptive greens at the Ohio State University Scarlet Course on Thursday, this year looks to be a different story.

Inside the Numbers
18-Hole Leaderboard
Player Score
T1. Bryce Molder 67 -4
T1. Bill Lunde 67 -4
T1. Kelly Grunewald 67 -4
T1. Dave Schultz 67 -4
T5. Scott Gardiner 68 -3
T5. Marc Leishman 68 -3
T5. Phil Tataurangi 68 -3
T5. Rich Barcelo 68 -3
T5. Bubba Dickerson 68 -3
T5. Won Joon Lee 68 -3
T5. Jonas Blixt 68 -3

Four Americans -- Bryce Molder, Bill Lunde, Kelly Grunewald and Dave Schultz -- are tied for the lead with 4-under-par 67s in the first round.

Australians Scott Gardiner and Marc Leishman, along with New Zealand's Phil Tataurangi, are tied for fifth at 3-under 68 with Rich Barcelo of Reno, Nev.; Bubba Dickerson, a Jacksonville, Fla., native; Jonas Blixt, a 24-year-old Swede who turned professional four weeks ago; and Won Joon Lee, a South Korean who grew up in Australia.

There are 11 players tied for 12th at 2-under-par 69.

Last year, 15 scores of par or below were recorded in the opening round compared to 54 in Thursday's first round.

Molder, who plays out of Whisper Rock GC in Scottsdale, Ariz., bogeyed the par-5 fourth hole, but got back on track with five birdies, including three deuces on the par-3 fifth, eighth, and 17th holes. The Georgia Tech standout says his game has not progressed as he would have liked compared to some other college stars.

"That's really frustrating, but there's different ways of looking at it," said Molder. "There are a lot of people that played well at some point in their career and it takes a while to get back there, and the game is cyclical; it just is. I just know that in five or 10 years, I'll be glad that I went through what I've gone through."

"The hardest part about professional golf is it bullies you sometimes to feel like there's a certain way to play, and it's got to look a certain way and score a certain way and in the end they only see you for what the scorecard says," added Molder, a winner at the 2006 Miccosukee Championship. "There are a lot of really pretty rounds of golf at even par that send you home on the weekend -- not here -- but most times."

Lunde, a Las Vegas resident, birdied four of his last seven holes and was impressed with the Scarlet Course.

"It's long, tough, and there are a couple of ways to make birdie out there.You have to hit a really good shot in close, or make a 25-footer at times," he said.

The 32-year-old took a break from golf at the end of 2005 when he decided he wasn't enjoying any aspect of the game.

"I went to work for Las Vegas Foundation, the group that ran TOUR events out in Las Vegas," said Lunde. "Then I worked for a title company for a while, but with the market the way it is, I quit."

Lunde started playing again in April last year after some encouragement from family and friends, and says he is not as hard on himself as he used to be.

"I don't know if I just matured a little bit," he said. "It's hard for me to explain but it's easier for me to not take it so hard."

Grunewald, the 39-year-old Texan, went one shot better than his opening round of 68 here last year.

"I really feel like this course suits my game," said Grunewald, who was in contention during the final round last year but tied for 14th after dropping three strokes in the last four holes. He is in need of a good tournament to elevate him from his current 108th position on the money list.

David Schultz, a Nationwide Tour rookie from Fargo, N.D., birdied two of his last three holes to get to 4 under. The Texas Christian graduate earned his best finish on the Nationwide Tour earlier this year with a tie for fifth at the HSBC New Zealand PGA Championship. Schultz is 88th on the money list with $40,931.

First-Round News & Notes: For the second year in a row the "First Shot to Fight Cancer," a ceremonial opening tee shot, was struck at 6:45 a.m. by five-year-old Nick DiPaolo, who was diagnosed with Hepatoblastoma at age two. ... The most difficult hole was the par-4 11th hole with a scoring average of 4.34, while the easiest hole was the par-5 12th, which averaged 4.653. ... Of the First-Team All-Americans who were invited to play this week, three -- Michael Thompson, Kevin Chappell and Jonas Blixt -- are competing as professionals. ... Garth Mulroy, a South African who resides in Raleigh, N.C., had a birdie-birdie-eagle-birdie streak on hole Nos. 10-13. ... Last year's winner, Daniel Summerhays, opened with 74. ... University of Southern California sophomore Rory Hie, playing in his first ever professional event, shot 69 with six birdies to be tied for 12th. ... Australian Marc Leishman played the par-5 holes in 4 under with an eagle at hole No. 4 and birdies at the sixth and 12th. ... Geoffrey Sisk (69), Brendon De Jonge (70), Dustin Bray (69) and Spencer Levin (69) recorded bogey-free rounds. ... Matt Hansen recorded a 9-over-par 14 at the par-5 fourth hole after hitting five balls in the water hazard.