Two PGA Tour veterans, an outstanding club professional and a South African celebrating his 50th birthday claimed the four available places in qualifying yesterday at Mountain Branch Golf Club for the Champions Tour's Constellation Energy Classic.
Lon Nielsen, from East Aurora, N.Y., whose 20-year career as head professional at Crag Burn GC includes three national PGA of America Club Professional of the Year awards, closed with successive birdies on Nos. 7-9 to lead the way in the 67-man field with a 4-under-par 33-35-68. He totaled six birdies on the 6,950-yard course, with the last three not longer than 10 feet.
He turned 50 a couple of months ago and has been given permission by club officials to try some of these events in advance of going to the fall qualifying school.
Rik Massengale, 56, a former PGA Tour regular, made his first qualifying start of the year a success with 36-33-69. His 3-under on the back nine was the result of a 30-foot birdie putt at the 11th and a 25-foot eagle putt at the 12th.
Bobby Lincoln, who arrived from Johannesburg on Friday, gave himself a birthday present when he made a 6-foot birdie putt at the 18th, his last hole, that avoided a playoff. He finished 36-34-70.
There was a three-way playoff at 71 for the final spot, and Beau Baugh, 51, one of several in the field with PGA Tour experience, won it with an 8-foot birdie putt at No. 18.
Pete Oakley, a recent U.S. Senior Open qualifier from Lincoln, Del., slipped to first alternate after missing from 4 feet on the 18th green. Earlier in the playoff (holes 10-11-18), Wayne McDonald had gone out at the first hole.
Baugh eagled 12 and birdied 18 (his first nine), then hung on for 37-34, and Oakley, who recovered from two late back-nine bogeys to put up four birdies and a double-bogey on the front, had 34-37.
U.S. Mid-Amateur: Rick Sovero of Sykesville was one of four players with 1-under 69s at Montgomery Village G&CC, earning him a medal and a place in the championship Oct. 11-16 in Wilmington, Del.
Sovero, 34, shot 34-35-69. Winner of the Rolling Road GC club championship last week, he nearly offset four birdies with a pair of 3-putt bogeys, plus one that followed a penalty stroke.
Middle Atlantic Women's Amateur: Janice Calomiris of Washington and Congressional CC took the first-round lead with a 77 at Chestnut Ridge CC.
Tinker Sanger, Green Spring Valley Hunt Club, trailed with a 79, where she was tied with Andrea Kraus of Woodholme CC. Kraus is seeking one of the few area titles to elude her during a 25-year career.
U.S. Seniors: For the women, Bonnie Fry of Bel Air defeated Dianne Yelovich of Pinehurst, N.C., 4 and 3, to reach this morning's second round at Barton Creek Resort & GC in Austin, Texas.
For the men, Congressional CC member Bob Morris and former Rockville resident Frank Abbott advanced to the second round. Marty West of Rockville lost to William Dreibelis of Freeport, Ill., 1-down, at The Virginian Club in Bristol, Va.