Wog leads early in windy Stroke Play

Michael Wog of Scottsdale, one of the pre-tournament favorites, managed to shoot a one-under-par 69 in windy conditions Thursday for the first-round lead in the Arizona Stroke Play Championship at the TPC Scottsdale’s Champions Course.

Wog, the Arizona Golf Association’s player of the year in 2009, was the only player to break par, although six players equaled it including Scottsdale teen-agers Blake Cannon and David Lowe, as well as Chandler’s Peter Kyo Won Koo, a 15-year-old.

Lowe, a senior at Phoenix’s Brophy Prep bound for Arizona State, said the wind was “definitely a factor,’’ but conceded that the Champions Course “always is a great test.’’

“I got used to the wind, but it was tough, a one- to two-club wind,’’ said Lowe, an 18-year-old who found himself two over at the turn before battling back with birdies at the 14th and 15th holes.

“Fortunately, I struck the ball very well in the wind and hit 16 greens in the process.  I’m very happy after getting myself in position, and now if I can just putt a little bit better maybe I can stay up there (among the leaders).’’

Lowe has game after he tied for seventh in the Arizona Public Links Championship last month in Tucson.

“The AZ Publinks was my first-ever AGA event, and my finish was encouraging, so I’m looking forward to this,’’ Lowe said.

Lowe, who also considered offers from Notre Dame and the University of San Diego, said he’s looking forward to being a Sun Devil.

“ASU has everything I could ask for in a great university both on and off the course,’’ said Lowe, who maintained a 4.0 GPA at Brophy that earned him a spot in the prestigious Barrett Honors College at ASU.

Among the other notables besides Wog, who was the runner-up in this tournament in 2009, is Ken Kellaney, the AGA’s player of the year a record 10 times. Kellaney, who opened with a 72, was joined at that number by the other favorite in this major championship, Andrew Medley of Scottsdale, the former Arizona standout who recently claimed the club championship at Whisper Rock.

“That was fun, beating a few guys with their names on their bag,’’ said Medley, whose victims at the high-profile Scottsdale club included CBS commentator/Champions Tour funnyman Gary McCord in the semifinals and European Tour standout Scott Harrington in the championship.

Also in the mix among the “name’’ players in the Stroke Play is former Arizona Cardinals quarterback Tim Rattay, who shot 73. Tucson’s Alex McMahon, who also tied for seventh in the AZ Publinks and was the recent winner of the highly regarded Thunderbird Invitational, carded a 74.
The Stroke Play is a 72-hole tournament that runs through Sunday. A cut after 36 holes will whittle the 144-player field to the low 60 players and ties.