McDaniel grabs first-round lead at AZ Publinks Championship
David McDaniel of Tucson shot a six-under 64 to take a three-shot lead over Oro Valley’s Bill Berkeihser after the first round of play at the Arizona Publinks Championship being contested at Randolph North Golf Complex March 5 -7. Jimmy Kozikowski of Mesa is alone in third with a one-under 69, while former champions Steve Dallas of Mesa and Robin McCool of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania both shot even-round 70’s to tie for fourth place with Wade Henry of Mesa. Michael Wog II of Scottsdale, the defending champion and Ken Kellaney, a two-time past champion from Phoenix are tied with 10 other golfers in 13th place including 2009 Senior Player of the Year Frank Ellenburg of Chandler at two-over 72. Following play tomorrow, the field will be cut to low 60 and ties. McDaniel, the 2009 Billy Mayfair Award Winner for lowest stroke average, had a strong performance with an eagle three, seven birdies and just two bogeys in the round. Starting on the back nine, he opened the day with a birdie threes on the 10th and 14th holes. He continued his run to four under with an eagle three on the 574-yard par 5 16th hole with a driver and hybrid to reach the green and then drained a 20-footer. A three-putt on the 17th was the lone blemish on the nine. After making the turn to the front nine, he had four birdies through seven holes to boost his scorecard to seven-under. “Overall, I played pretty solid, but let a couple of shots slip away,” he said. “The course is in good condition and it was there to make a bunch of birdies. Even though I had a few three putts, I made a couple of 20 or 30 footers, so it pretty much evened out. There is still a lot of golf to be played, so I’m not too excited yet.” McDaniel’s 64 was the lowest opening round in the four years the tournament has been at Randolph and his best first round score by a full four strokes, when he shot a 68 last year, only to finish in second place a full nine shots off the pace to Michael Wog II. In 2008, he finished the first round tied with Tim Duffey for the lead with an even par 70 and finished again in second one shot behind. Birkeihser starting on the back nine, had a relatively calm first nine with just one bogey on the 467-yard par four fourth hole to finish the side at one-over 36. On the front nine, he lit up the course with five birdies through six holes. His lone misstep with a bogey-five on the 356-yard seventh hole. Finishing the round with back-to-back pars he posted a four-under 31 for the front nine. Wog, of Scottsdale, the defending champion and 2009 AGA Player of the Year shot a two-over 72, five shots higher than his 2009 result. “It was frustrating and I made some mental errors,” Wog said. “I am not on the top of my game and I felt like I gave away four or five shots from mental errors. Unfortunately, I’m not as tuned up and primed as I would like to be. If David fires another 64 he will have a good handle on it. I feel like I could shoot some low numbers the next few days and hopefully make some better mental decisions and see what happens. Wog, who started on the back nine had a one-over 35 for his first nine with two birdies and two bogeys. On the front nine, he carded a double bogey on 415-yard par four second hole, but erased that mistakes with birdies on the third and six holes, to go back to one-over for the round. The fourth bogey of the day on the seventh hole put a stop to his brief run and he posted a second identical one-over 35 for the front nine. “Tomorrow I just want to go out and try to go low,” he added. “ I am looking forward to tomorrow. I have a good tee time with two great guys Ken (Kellaney) and Jerry (Huff) that I really respect. So hopefully we can feed off each other play well and that would be nice.” .