It was good to have 8:27 tee times for the opening round of the Rosauers Open Invitational.
David Phay and Brian Thornton were paired together on the first tee and both carded eagles en route to 7-under 65s Friday at MeadowWood. Ryan Benzel, the 2005 champion, started on No. 10 and posted a bogey-free 65 for a share of the lead.
Manito assistant and three-time Rosauers champion Corey Prugh was one of 10 players at 5-under 67, including Coeur d’Alene Golf Club’s Brent Walsh, Deer Park’s Luke Baker, University of Idaho G.C.’s David Nuhn and amateurs Kyler Gable (Avondale) and Reid Hatley (Hayden Lake).
Benzel, the Ritzville native and University of Idaho graduate, last played MeadowWood in the 1996 state tournament. MeadowWood is hosting the Rosauers because of damage to Indian Canyon’s greens.
“I actually finished second,” he said. “If I could improve on that it would be great.”
He birdied three of the four par 5s, two of the par 4s (Nos. 3 and 13) and two of the par 3s (Nos. 6 and 17).
He made a 20-footer on No. 6, but everything else was from close range. His approach on the 399-yard 13th was within a foot and his wedge on the 16th was within 18 inches. He dropped a 7-footer on 17. He hit wedge to 6 feet on No. 2 did the same thing on No. 3.
“I wasn’t in much trouble,” Benzel said. “Kind of a stress-free day.”
Phay and Thornton can relate.
“I always try to pay attention to my own ball,” said Phay, the 2012 champion. “The hard part is when somebody is playing bad (in your group) but it’s nice to see other people playing well. Our amateur (Seth Nickerson) shot 70 so we were 16-under.”
Thornton, pro at Meridian Valley in Kent, Washington, was even through six holes. He knocked his second shot on the par-5 7th within 4 feet and made the eagle putt. He had five birdies on the back nine.
“The greens are really good, they’re rolling well,” Thornton said. “If you can get it anywhere inside 10, 15 feet you have a good chance to make the putt and that’s pretty much the way it went.”
Phay, 33-year-old pro at Whidbey Golf and Country Club in Oak Harbor, Washington, birdied No. 9 to turn in 4-under. He eagled the par-5 No. 12 and birdied No. 15.
“I didn’t play well (in the pro-am Wednesday and Thursday) but I got some things worked out,” Phay said. “I haven’t been playing much; I just got too busy at work and family stuff. It’s good, it’s just not a lot of time spent playing golf.”
Asked what score would be in the mix for the $11,000 first-place check, Phay said, “It’ll take whatever Corey Prugh shoots. He’s a really good player and he knows this course very well.”
Prugh, who torched MeadowWood with a 61 Wednesday and a 62 in a July 7 pro-am, made his only bogey on No. 9 when he missed the fairway and had to punch out from behind a tree.
He had a two-putt birdie on 12 and banged in a 25-foot birdie putt on a 13. He made a nifty chip to save par on 18.
“I’ve been pretty hot on the course,” Prugh said. “I cooled off appropriately that I can go hard (today).”
A total of 63 players broke par. After today’s round, the field will be cut to the low 60 pros and ties and all amateurs in that range.