***** Note: Championship flight is at Del Monte Sunday, 8:30 shotgun start. Net and Senior flights are at Pacific Grove, 7:30 shotgun start *****
PACIFIC GROVE, Calif. (De. 6, 2008) -- Burlingame's Randy Haag ripped off a 6-under-par 64 at Pacific Grove Golf Links to take the first round lead at the amateurgolf.com Christmas Classic and grabbed a hammerlock on the amateurgolf.com - Bridgestone Golf Tournament Series Player of the Year race. Entering the final tournament of the season with a 75-point lead over Monterey's Chris Marin, Haag needed only a top-10 finish to sew up the title, but he seems poised to do much more than that.
"I was making all of the six, eight, ten foot putts, they aren't all going to go in, but I was just trying to put my best stroke on it, right line, right speed, that's all you can do," said Haag, who is the reigning AGC Tournament Series Player of the Year. "It was just really enjoyable, great weather, the back nine right on the ocean, great field, this is what we play for."
Haag has plenty of work to do if he wants to take home the tournament. University of Denver senior Chris Gilman trails him by a stroke at 65, and has a good deal of confidence heading into the final round after going under par at Del Monte (site of the second round of play) Friday during a practice round. The Yorba Linda native took sixth in last year's tournament, carding a 75 at Del Monte in his first time playing the course. He picked up some local knowledge from Casey Boyns (the founder of the Christmas Classic) during that round, knowledge that he expects to come in handy in Sunday's round.
"I felt like I left a 60 or a 61 out there today, I don't know how I ran into so many birdies," said Gilman. "I was just hitting fairways and greens, because there was no wind it was easy to go right at the pins if you leave it in the right spots."
Kent Yamane and Jeremy Gearhart are also in the chase at 4-under 66, as are Andrey Mindirgasov and Reid Scarff at 67. Altogether there were 17 players at par or better.
Full results, including senior and net divisions will be posted later tonight.