Unheralded Robin Freeman ran off eight birdies but couldn’t run away from veteran Jim Gallagher Jr.
The pair shared the first-round lead in the weather-delayed Sprint International on Thursday at Castle Pines Golf Club.
Play was suspended for 2 hours, 2 minutes because of lightning and rain late in the afternoon, then was halted by darkness with 21 players still on the course. They were to complete their rounds beginning at 7 a.m. today, before the start of the second round.
Freeman and Gallagher had 13 points under the modified Stableford system used to score this unique event.
Golfers are awarded 8 points for double eagle, 5 points for eagle, 2 points for birdie, zero for par, minus-1 for bogey and minus-3 for double bogey or worse.
Tied with 11 points were Mike Reid and Kenny Perry.
Tom Watson birdied his last four holes to finish at 10, along with Scott Hoch, John Cook, Woody Austin and Gene Sauers. U.S. Open champion Steve Jones led a group at 9. British Open champion Tom Lehman was in a group at 7, and Masters champion Nick Faldo was among those at 6. Phil Mickelson, Davis Love III and defending champion Lee Janzen were at 5.
The stellar field included the winners of all four majors and 25 of the top 30 money-winners on the PGA Tour this season.
Mark Brooks, who beat Perry in a playoff in last week’s PGA Championship, finished at minus-4 and was in danger of missing the 36-hole cut, as was John Daly, also at minus-4.
Among those still to finish, Bart Bryant had the best score, at plus-9 through 16 holes.
Freeman, a non-winner in six full seasons on the tour, had a round that included four birdies in a row on putts of 8, 2, 8 and 10 feet. He was on the 18th green when play was suspended because of weather. When play resumed, he two-putted from 50 feet for par.
Freeman, 37, is best known for being the only two-time medalist in tour qualifying school history and for being the son-in-law of baseball Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner. He ranks 138th on the money list with $89,250, having missed 13 cuts in 25 events.
“It feels great to compete with the best in the world and be right with them in terms of score,” Freeman said. “I’ve been playing better the last six weeks. I made some swing changes at the start of the year and I’m just getting comfortable with them.”
The key to his round, he said, was “coming back to make birdie at 12” after suffering his first bogey at No. 11.
Gallagher, 35, also had four straight birdies among his total of seven.
“I haven’t been making any putts all year, but today I did,” said Gallagher, who has five Tour victories.
Scores are cumulative for all four rounds, unlike the formative years of this tournament when there were no carryover points from day to day and there were daily cuts. This year, the field will be cut to 72 players for Saturday and to 24 for Sunday.
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