Jeff Coston has been coming to the Rosauers Open Invitational for 18 years and he’s the tournament’s only three-time champion.
David Phay is playing in his second Rosauers and he missed the cut a year ago.
Both players find themselves in the same position after shooting 9-under-par 62s – one off the course record – Friday at Indian Canyon to share the first-round lead in the 54-hole tournament. Russell Grove, assistant pro at Avondale, shot a 63. Isaac Henry-Cano, from Twin Lakes in Federal Way, Wash., and amateur Ryan Porch of Big Mountain Golf Club (Kalispell, Mont.) fired 64s.
It’s a crowded leaderboard with 44 players shooting in the 60s and 62 players breaking par. Seven players, including 2011 and 2009 champion Corey Prugh, 2005 champion Ryan Benzel, 2001 champion Casey McCoy and The Fairways’ assistant pro Robert Selland, shot 65s.
Former Mead High and Washington State Cougar David Fern, who recently won the Palouse Ridge Amateur, is one of four players at 66.
Coston, pro at Semiahmoo Golf and Country Club in Blaine, Wash., shot 29 on the back nine. He birdied 16 and eagled 17 and 18.
“I’m just trying to play one shot, one hole. That concept has been good for me,” said Coston, who will play in his sixth PGA Championship next month. “My mind-set was controlling the curve of my ball, mainly curving it right to left today, and not trying too hard.”
The 56-year-old Coston said he enjoys everything about the Rosauers – the course, the heat and the city of Spokane.
“I am 56 from neck up and 26 from neck down,” said Coston, who is second on the PGA Pacific Northwest Section player of the year points list behind Prugh. “The hotter it gets, the younger I feel.”
Phay, pro at Whidbey (Wash.) Golf and Country Club, had an eagle on the par-5 second, eight birdies and one bogey, a three-putt on No. 9.
“About the middle of the round I started playing pretty well,” the 31-year-old Phay said. “I kept it in play and I putted well, which is kind of what you have to do when you shoot low.”
Phay made an unsightly seven on a par 3 and narrowly missed the cut last year, but he filed away valuable course knowledge.
“I kind of figured out the course a little more off the tee,” he said. “There were six or seven holes where I wasn’t sure how far I needed to hit it. I’m just more comfortable off the tees.”
It’ll probably take three low scores to stay in the title chase, Phay said.
“I expect you’re going to have to average around 65. That usually seems to be what the numbers are here.”
Grove, a former Coeur d’Alene High and University of Idaho standout, had three eagles – on the par-5 second, par-4 seventh and par-5 18th – to go with four birdies and two bogeys.