GRASONVILLE -- Jon Stanley, an assistant professional at the Burning Tree Club, bolted out of the middle of the pack with a competitive-course-record 66, and opened a two-stroke lead in the 71st annual Maryland Open championship at Prospect Bay Country Club yesterday.
His 31-3566 round included eight birdies, five of them in a row on the front side, and was built on a vastly improved putting touch from the day before.
Jack Skilling, Dennis Winters and Tom Gross kept the leader within range at 141, followed by defending champion Bob Boyd at 142.
First-day co-leaders Henry Blue of Green Spring and David Newsom of Hidden Creek, each stumbled. Newsom got in with a 76 after finishing with a double-bogey 7 at the last hole after his approach shot hit on a bank and bounced into a green-side pond. Blue had some problems getting to some of the greens and worse trouble when he got there as he included four three-putt greens on his way to an 84.
The cut came at 151, and 42 players will play the back nine. This includes six amateurs, a group led by Joe Franz of the CC of Maryland, 75-73148.
Stanley, who won the Kentucky PGA Section Assistants championship in 1988, the year before he moved to Maryland, is in his third year as an assistant at Burning Tree. A consistent money-winner in area pro-am tournaments, he came into this event fresh from winning the Middle Atlantic Professional Golfers' Association Central Chapter Assistants championship.
He started birdie-bogey-par, then turned up the heat with those five straight birdies on putts from 20 feet, 10 feet, and three from inside five feet. His back nine included two birdies and a bogey. He put a 5-iron shot within two feet and made the putt at No. 12, and wedged it close at the 18th after a bogey at the 17th.
"I putted poorly Monday, and I went out last evening and spent some time working on it," Stanley said.
There was a postscript to make sure he didn't lose perspective. As is the case with many assistant professionals, the shop comes first and anything else second. Thus, it came as no surprise that Stanley left for Bethesda immediately after his round be on hand to close the Burning Tree shop.
The 6,675-yard Prospect Bay course is well-groomed but so demanding that it has yielded only three rounds in the 60s in two days -- about 260 rounds -- and the back nine, much of it tree-lined and narrow, has devoured many of the players.
In addition to Stanley, Skilling, from Columbia CC, had 69, and John McNaney of Country Road Driving Range in Frederick had 69.
Three other assistant pros are Stanley's closest pursuers, Skilling, former Baltimorean Gross of TPC-Avenel, and Winters of Eisenhower GC.
Skilling, who had opened with par 72, was 1-under through 27 holes, then earned his share of the 141s by playing the back nine 2-under, helped by a stretch of seven one-putt greens in eight holes.
Winters, a former Prospect Bay assistant, cited local knowledge for his position, although he scrambled late in the round, and needed a pair of workingman's pars to get home with 70. He had two birdies and a bogey on the front, and a birdie at No. 11, then parred in from there. He holed putts of outside 10 feet for pars after missing the greens on the last two holes.
Gross, second to Boyd a year ago, and whose 68-69-69 would have won almost any other year instead of being nine shots back, also did his best work on the more open front nine where he had three birdies for a 33. Coming back, a bogey at the par-3 12th was his only deviation from par.
McNaney's round included a string of four birdies in a row on putts ranging from 12 to 18 feet.
Although he had opened with 75 Monday, for the most part he has played well in recent weeks -- five wins -- since abandoning his driver, using a 2-wood or 1-iron off the tees. The best effort was a winning 63 in the pro sweeps phase of a Pro-Senior tournament at Longview Golf Course last week.