Bolli shoots 66 to lead at the Scarlet Course in Ohio

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In his last seven starts, Justin Bolli has two top-25s and two top-fives, including a runner-up finish.
July 30, 2009
Joe Chemycz, PGA TOUR Staff

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- It's a good thing Justin Bolli has a short memory. The last time the Georgia native teed it up at the Nationwide Children's Hospital Invitational he was disqualified after the opening round for signing an incorrect scorecard. That was two years ago. This time around, Bolli checked, double-checked and re-checked the numbers before turning in his card which revealed a 5-under-par 66 that put him in sole possession of the 18-hole lead in the event that features the Tour's fourth largest purse ($775,000) of the year.


"I was down for a bogey and par on 14 and 15 but I made a par and a bogey. We changed it but I didn't look too closely, but then who does," said Bolli of his only professional disqualification. "I learned my lesson -- check your card closely. The only saving grace, if there is one, is that I didn't shoot 66 or 67, so it wasn't devastating."

Bolli put the past behind him at the famed Ohio State University Scarlet Course and opened a one-stroke lead over Norway's Henrik Bjorstad, New Zealand's Phil Tataurangi, Dave Schultz, Scott Parel and Steve Wheatcroft, who played his college golf at Indiana University.

Six others are one shot back, including Chris Tidland, who was a member of the Oklahoma State NCAA Championship team that defeated Tiger Woods' Stanford team in a playoff on this course in 1995.

This week's field features some of the top collegiate players in the country. Sponsor invitations were extended to eight First Team All-Americans. Washington's Nick Taylor and Oklahoma State's Ricky Fowler each carded 2-under 69s to lead the group.

The Scarlet course is among the toughest on the Nationwide Tour but early morning rains softened the 7,455-yard layout enough to produce a scoring average of 71.813 and 41 sub-par rounds. There were only 45 sub-par scores turned in during the opening round of the event in 2007 and 2008 combined.

"There was no wind out there and the greens were soft, so it was pretty scorable today," said Bolli, who matched the tournament record with his 66. "It's not easy but today was one of the easier days. There aren't any easy holes and certainly there are no gimme birdies like there are some weeks out here. It's not like we're hitting 6-irons into par-5s or driving any short par-4s."

Regardless of the lower-than-normal scores, the course has earned the respect of everyone that navigates the layout that was built in 1938 and redesigned in 2005 by former Buckeye Jack Nicklaus.

"It's just a solid golf course," said Schultz. "It can be any type of condition and it's going to hold up. You're not going to see a guy shoot in the low 60s too often."

Parel also had high praise for the suddenly-soft layout.

"A lot of times out here you don't feel like par is that good a score on Tour," he said. "At this course, you know par is a good score on almost every hole out here. It does make a difference to me to know that par is a good score, then maybe you don't press so much if you don't make two or three birdies early."


First-Round Notes:

Rich Barcelo, winner of last week's Cox Classic in Omaha, Neb., shot a 2-under 69.

• Leading money winner Michael Sim carded a 3-over 74, the second-highest score he has posted in 2009. Sim, who has 6 top-5 finishes in 10 starts this year, is currently tied for 112th place.

• There were only two eagles during the first round -- Ohio State product Vaughn Snyder (par-5, 12th) had one and Columbus-born Kyle Reifers (par-4, 3rd) had the other.

Bob May and Brian Stuard each shot even-par 71s that consisted of 18 pars.

Player School Score
Rickie Fowler Oklahoma State 69 (-2)
Matthew Giles Southern California 71 (E)
Morgan Hoffmann Oklahoma State 70 (-1)
Billy Horschel* Florida 72 (+1)
Nick Taylor Washington 69 (-2)
Cameron Tringale Georgia Tech 72 (+1)
Kyle Stanley* Clemson 73 (+2)
Mike Van Sickle Marquette 73 (+2)
* has already turned professional

• Here is how the list of All-America exemptions are doing this week: