From the Indiana Golf Association
COLUMBUS, Ind. (July 7, 2014) -- Columbus' own Tyler Duncan looks for his second Indiana golf major victory this week at his home course Otter Creek GC. After firing an opening round of 5-under-par 67 at the 99th Indiana Open Championship, Duncan grabbed an early share of the lead along with Fishers' Andy Winings.
"It's definitely an advantage to know the course," Duncan said. "I feel really comfortable playing here and I know where the best places to miss are. It also helps to know the greens because they can be difficult."
Both Duncan and Winings are past Indiana Amateur Champions, and look for their first wins with professional status.
"I like the position I'm in," Duncan said. "I need to continue to hit my drives in the fairway and give myself good angles to go for pins. Andy is a great player and I know he will continue to play strong this week. I'm really looking forward to the next few days."
Winings' 5-under-par finish was partly due to his ace on the par-3, 3rd hole. Winings hit a solid 5-iron on the 190 yard par-3 and with a bounce and a roll saw his ball disappear.
"I hit my 5-iron really well," Winings said. "I had been hitting the ball well all day and it was definitely a nice surprise to see it go in. It was unexpected and gave me a little bit of momentum heading into my last six holes."
Winings has finished second in this event on two occasions, once in '09 at Brickyard Crossing GC and again in '10 at The Legends GC.
"I'm happy to get off to a good start," Winings said. "I need to continue to strike the ball well the rest of the week. There is still a lot of golf left to be played."
As the late afternoon groups began to finish, Duncan and Winings proved to have their work cut out for them, as three more players finished round one at 5-under-par.
Past PGA Tour player Craig Bowden of Bloomington posted a 67 late this afternoon to grab a share of the lead and a look at his third Indiana Open Championship title.
"This is my first time playing in the Open in 19 years," Bowden said. "I won in '94 and '95 and it would mean a lot to me to win for a third time. Playing at home is fun and I hope to have a chance come Thursday afternoon."
Plainfield's Eric Huther, who played in the same group as Bowden, also fired 67 late this afternoon which he attributes to his putting.
"My driver wasn't great today, but I found a way to give myself chances and my putts happened to fall," Huther said. "Craig got off to a tremendous start and it was easy to feed off of his solid play as the day progressed."
After a short rain delay, Blake Russell of Monticello, Ind. and Bluffton's McCormick Clouser shook up the leaderboard with a pair of 5-under-par 67s.
"I'm really excited," Russell said. "I have never been in this position before. I'm sure I will be a little bit nervous tomorrow, but it is a good nervous. I'm really looking forward to the rest of the week and I hope to continue to play well."
Clouser, a State Am runner-up in '11, looks for his first Indiana golf victory after a solid opening round.
"I didn't really make any mistakes today," Clouser said. "I played steady and I hope to continue to do the same tomorrow. Being in this position definitely takes the pressure off and I'm excited to see what happens this week."
2013 Hoosier Junior Champion Tyler Gray also has an early look at the title. Gray participated in his first Indiana Open Championship last year and failed to make the cut. However, with a junior victory last year at Otter Creek, Gray feels confident in his game and his ability to play well at this course.
"My goal this year was to make the cut," said Gray of Huntingburg, Ind. "I've put myself in great position to do so and this round gives me confidence heading into the rest of the week. I need to continue to hit fairways and greens because the rough at Otter Creek is not very forgiving."
Seven players are just two shots back at 3-under-par.
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