RICHMOND, Va. (Sept. 18, 2014 Event rookie Roger Newsom, a 50-year-old amateur from Virginia Beach, shot an opening-round 4-under-par 68 and is atop the leaderboard entering Friday’s final day of the 9th Senior Open of Virginia being conducted at The Country Club of Virginia’s Tuckahoe Creek Course. The championship is open to amateurs and professional golfers, ages 50 and older.

Newsom owns a one-stroke lead over 2008 champion Jon Corliss (Virginia Beach), the PGA director of instruction at Heron Ridge Golf Club in Virginia Beach as well as John Francisco (Westminster, Md.), the PGA director of instruction at Piney Branch Golf and Country Club in Upperco, Md., (Baltimore area) who each opened with 3-under 69.

Amateurs Dave Pulk (Williamsburg) and Jim Nirich (Catlett) signed for 1-under 71 and are three off the pace. Nirich logged a second nine best 30 that included seven birdies against a bogey and signaled an 11-stroke improvement over his first nine aggregate. Central Virginia amateur and 2011 event winner David Partridge (Manakin) returned even-par 72.

Newsom, a Virginia Beach-based ophthalmologist, shot a scintillating second nine score of 5-under 31 to own the overnight lead. After turning in one over par, he birdied the par-4 10th and finished his round strong, birdieing four of the final six holes. He knocked in putts inside of 6 feet at Nos. 13 and 14, drained a 10-footer at No. 16 and made an 8-footer at the last.

He’s no stranger to demanding tests, having qualified for and competed in this summer’s U.S. Senior Open at Oak Tree National Golf Club in Edmond, Okla., where the course played more than 7,050 yards.

“I guess I’m used to the regular golf courses playing longer,” said Newsom, the State Open of Virginia champion in 2008 and 2011. “Here, if you hit the ball in the middle of the fairway, you have 8-irons, 9-irons and wedges. To me, it made it a lot easier. I hit my driver well today, so if you stayed in play, it made a difference.

“The greens are perfect. I don’t know if they can get the golf course in any better shape. It’s in superior condition.”

Newsom thinks he’ll need another round in the 60s on the final day.

“I think it is going to take 69 or 68,” he said. “You have guys who can come up with a 66 out of the blue. I think that number is out there. I think there is a low score out there. I think I have to go out and shoot another 68. I think 68 (Friday) would give me a good chance.”

Corliss birdied two of the final three holes and put together a solid round, missing just three greens in regulation.

“It was kind of boring,” he said with a laugh. “I was steady, just trying to make pars and let birdies get in the way. It’s such a great golf course. I think anything (even) par or better is a really good score.”

Francisco played bogey-free with three birdies.

“I sort of did everything well today—nothing great and nothing poor,” he said. “When I hit a bad shot or got in trouble, I got up and down.”

Newsom, Francisco and Corliss will be in the final group of three teeing off at 12:21 p.m. EDT on Friday.

View results for Senior Open of Virginia Golf Championship

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